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The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Bridge to Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson, won the 1978 Newbery Medal. It focuses on the sweet friendship of a tween boy and girl who share imaginative play, creating a world of their own just a rope swing away, far from the school bullies they face. It also features a child's death and grief in the aftermath of the tragedy, and may provoke tears. There's mention of cremation, which may be upsetting to some kids. Some strong language, including "bitch," "damn," and "hell."
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What's the story?
Is it any good?
Among countless books about friendship and loss, this one stands out. It's notable for the tender care the author lavishes on her main characters, and for the honest portrayal of a child's grief and a child's capacity for creating beauty from tragedy. Jesse's life can be a struggle -- especially with four sisters and a need to hide his passion for drawing. But author Katherine Paterson gives voice to his fears and hopes without imposing judgment or commentary.
Readers will find much common ground with the protagonists. Jesse, though often annoyed by his sisters, tries to be kind, and sympathizes with his overworked mother. Leslie, the only child of wealthy, intellectual parents who sometimes forgets she's a child, knows what it's like to be an outsider. Though the last part of the book deals with death and its aftermath, this is ultimately a richly uplifting story of a boy and a girl who become friends despite their differences.
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