Thursday, March 3, 2011

MG Book Review: Bridge to Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson

General Information
Publisher:  Harper Collins
Year of publication:  1977
# of chapters:  13
# of pages:  128
Genre:  Adventure
Plot summary:  (see above link)

Positive Points
This story is about an unconventional friendship between Jess, a ten-year-old boy, and his new classmate Leslie, a girl who can outrun boys and create a fantastic made-up world in a forest.  What I mean by unconventional is that boys that age normally prefer to play with other boys, doing boy stuff, and don't hang out with girls by fear of being teased.  This friendship has no romantic element whatsoever, which is refreshing.

The author captures a boy's thoughts and reactions very well, through Jess's POV.  I can picture my son or my brother as a kid having similar reactions and thoughts.  If it had been written by a man, I would have thought this book was autobiographical.  It had a "real" feel to it. ... Doing some research, I'm just now finding out that it is based on a true story, inspired by the author's son. No wonder it felt so real!

Negative Points
I know this book has been challenged for several reasons:  language, religious and/or social concerns, and the book’s ending (according to The Lizard Queen).

Language:  It's true that there is a mild use of profanity, but it didn't bother me much, even though I dislike swear words.  These words were very mild, infrequent, and consistent with the characters and setting.  Still, it may be a concern for parents, depending how strict they are about language.

Religious and/or social concerns:  As for the book promoting witchcraft and violence, um... I think it's a bit far fetched.  I didn't see any of this.  We're talking about two kids' imaginary world where everything can happen.  Shouldn't there be a bit of magic and some invisible defeating of strange creatures in this made-up world?

Book's ending:  The ending is very sad, I must agree.  I'm not sure if young children can absorb it and understand Jess's reactions to it.  That may be my only negative point for this book.  But then again, some people love sad endings, and the terrible event (I don't want to spoil it for those who haven't read it yet) does trigger a whole lot of character growth for Jess.

What makes this book unique
At first, I thought the story had an interesting time setting.  From what I could gather, it took place in the 1970s, judging by references to technology back then and kids playing in the woods rather than in a living room with a controller.  I later realized that the book was written in the 70s.  So when it got published, it was contemporary, but now it could almost be considered as historical fiction.  (Boy, am I that old?)

It made me realize one thing about my own novel.  I was hesitating to add any details about things that would be obsolete a few years from now, like a DS game, for example.  Now I know what to do. These details add flavor to the story and set the scene in a particular time period, which is good.

Overall Impression
Great read, but the ending is just so sad!

My Rating:

Thinking of purchasing this book? I'll make it easy for you:


carouselwind said...

Good review. What is a DS game?

Annie McMahon said...

Thanks, Carouselwind! A DS is a portable video game, small enough for kids to carry in their pockets. Very popular now, but I'm not sure if it will still be "in" ten years from now... Very unlikely. That's why I'm hesitating between calling it a DS Game or just use a more generic term, like a portable video game.

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