Sunday, October 14, 2007

Another Newberry Winner

When I took my kids to see this movie last year, I didn't have the slightest idea what it was about. And although I think I probably embarrassed the hell out of the kiddies by sobbing through part of it, it was a phenomenal movie. I very rarely read the book AFTER the movie, just because I hate to already know what is going to happen. But I'm glad I read Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson (pgs. 163, Harper Collins) for the Newberry Challenge.

Jess Aarons is excited for the 5th grade to start. He's been running all summer so he can show everyone at recess that he is the fastest boy in the school. But things take an unexpected turn when the new kid at school turns out to be the fastest....and it's a girl!! Leslie Burke, a city kid that has moved to the country and just happens to be Jess' new neighbor, is different than the girls at Lark Creek Elementary. She dresses different, has short hair, and doesn't even own a TV! But once Jess gets to know her, they become inseparable. He finally finds a friend that understands his love of drawing.

Leslie and Jess create a world of their own -- Terabithia, a magical world in which they are the rulers and no one else is allowed to enter. It is a Kingdom of giants (which are not-so-surprisingly similar to the bullies at school) and spirits. Terabithia is place for Leslie and Jess alone, and the only way to get there is swing across the river on a rope. But when tragedy strikes and Jess blames himself, even Terabithia can't protect him from the grief he feels.

Paterson wrote this book based on personal experience. Her son David's best friend Lisa was killed in an accident when they were 8 years old. And this book was her tribute to both of them. I realize this book has been frequently "challenged" by parents. I can understand the reason, but I don't feel like children should be sheltered from this beautiful story. Yes, it is sad, but it is life. Children are more resilient than a lot of adults give them credit for, and I think this book could only be a benefit to them.

When the movie was released, all the trailers showed depictions of the fantasy world that was really only in Jess and Leslie's imagination. I think it is unfair to mislead people into thinking this book is a high fantasy book. Because it's not. It's about friendship and love. It's about understanding yourself and learning to live with that understanding. And it's about loss. It is a beautiful, simple story that everyone should read, adults and children alike. 4.5/5


Andi said...

I'm actually really glad to read your review because even though my Thesis Director (S.) and I haven't read this book, we knew enough to think that the movie really screwed it up. Exactly as you said, the trailers all portrayed it as high fantasy when we KNEW it wasn't! lol

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

Dangit, I just left a comment but it was lost because of the word verification being wrong. Urg! Anyway, good review--and yes, I was one of those that was misled by the preview of the movie. I haven't seen it, but was a little "shocked" when I read the book wondering what happened to all the fantasy. OH well!

DesLily said...

I had only seen the trailers to the movie when I read this book.. I was taken by surprise when the sad part happened!.. but this is a great book!

Unknown said...

I read the book after seeing the movie as well and loved both. The book definitely isn't fantasy based like the film was, but I still think the film was a really good adaptation of it.

Kimmie said...

The previews left me with no interest in this book. But after reading your review, I'll have to bet the book.

Stephanie said...

Andi - You should definitely read it. It's fantastic. I know that a lot of people who have read the book AFTER the movie was released was a little disappointed. Not what they thought it would be about. That sucks too...cause it's a great book. The movie itself is really good. Surprisingly so. It's just different than portrayed in the trailers. Hollywood can be so misleading sometimes!

Trish - I know. It really was portrayed differently in the trailers. I do hope you enjoyed the book for what is really was though.

Deslily - I was pretty taken aback myself when I saw the movie! I had no clue what was going to happen. Left me sobbing!! I'm such a baby about these things!! The book was I'm going to have to watch the movie again!!

Rhinoa - I agree. The movie worked the way it was made. I really thought they did a good job. It's a shame though that people who haven't read the book are a little taken aback when they read it. I know most are expecting a fantasy book!!

Kimmie - Definitely read it. I think you will like it. It's a very touching story!

Kellie said...

LOVE this story and think its a shame that it's been challenged. Terrible shame.

Stephanie said...

Zeek - I completely agree with you! I can understand the need to want to shelter kids from bad stuff, but this story is beautiful! Every kid should read it. In fact, my son has to read another book for his AR reading, and I suggested this one. He's reading it now!

Ana S. said...

I also really loved this book. And I agree with what you said - children are more resilient than they are given credit for, and the book shows just that.

Beautiful review.