HarperCollins, 1977. 978-0-690-04635-9
Reason for challenge/ban: Occult/Satanism, offensive language
Synopsis: Jess Aarons wants to be the fastest runner in the fifth grade, maybe even the whole school. He’s practiced and practiced all summer and can’t wait for school to begin so he can run in the races. On the first day of school, Jess is paired up with new girl Leslie Burke, who has moved into the farmhouse not far from Jess, to race. She beats him and all the other boys in the class, and running no longer becomes fun. Jess and Leslie gradually warm up to each other after Jess saves her from school bully Janice Avery on the bus ride home. While exploring the woods near the farm, the two find a rope hanging from a crab apple tree used to swing across the river. Jess and Leslie then create the magical world of Terabithia, where they are the king and queen. Then, Jess’s world is shattered by tragedy and Leslie’s friendship and love might be the only thing that holds him together.
Why I picked it up: It was a book for a cereal box book report I did when I was in sixth grade.
Why I finished it: This book is reflective of the friendships created by people who seem to have nothing in common. The fact that the friendship is a platonic relationship between a boy and a girl at an age where the two start to notice each other is what allows the story to connect with the reader. Every reader can remember their first best friend in school and how that relationship shaped them and the gift of strength and courage that comes from having someone you know will stick by you in all things in all circumstances. It is a story about the power of imagination and the certain magic of everyday things that create an escape from school and family. It makes us realize that even the simplest things are not simple, that people are not who they first appear to be, and that love comes in all forms. Jess and Leslie’s friendship helps them grow in a sense of self-reliance and interdependence that makes them able to deal with whatever comes their way. It’s a moving portrait of what it is like to grow up, to learn, and to remember the little things that make life so precious.
Other related materials: Bridge to Terabithia (movie); Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli; Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli; Love, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli; The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman; The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson; M.C. Higgins, The Great by Virginia Hamilton; Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh; Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia McLachlan; The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reed Banks; Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech; Ruby Holler by Sharon Creech; A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck; The Misfits by James Howe; When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead; Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce