Jesse Oliver Aarons Jr wants to be the fastest runner in the fifth grade, and after a long summer of training in the cow paddock (with Miss Bessie the cow in watchful attendance), he heads back to school with a skip in his step. Surely, he can beat the other boys in a running race.
It doesn't take long for the schoolyard boys to begin rustling up a running race, and Jesse's pace is looking fine - that is until a young tomboy named Leslie Burke streaks ahead to win.
Beaten by a girl? Oh, the shame, yet this doesn't stop Jesse forming a close bond with Leslie, a non-conforming girl with an enormous imagination and quiet inner strength.
Together, the two create the kingdom of Terabithia - over the river and snuck deep in the woodland. It's a place the two can be on their own, where they can imagine and dream and rule over their kingdom. It's a place that friendship, no matter your gender or background, can be fortified.
Set in America's south, the laconic, drawling scenes in this book are evocative and beautifully-written. Characters are strong and heartfelt, relationships are real and fascinating - the relationship with Jesse and his classic little sister May Belle, the fat school bully Janice Avery and Jesse's father are all priceless.
The final chapters of the book are some of the most heartbreaking scenes I have ever read, proving Patterson has an extraordinary knack for true-to-life writing and making Bridge to Terabithia a story that will capture your heart.
Title: Bridge to Terabithia
Author: Katherine Patterson
Publisher: Puffin, $16.95 RRP
Publication Date: 1995
For ages: 8+
Type: Junior Fiction