Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson (Book & Feature Film)

April 6, 2011

The Book:
I first read Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson when I was in 6th grade. I recall wanting to be like Leslie – a sweet girl who stood up to anyone and everyone.  She was different, unique and confident.  I longed to be as secure with my looks, feelings, and the choices I made.  She was everything I wasn’t. 
Now that I have reread Bridge to Terabithia, I have found myself relating with Miss Edmunds, Jess’ music teacher. She has a very close relationship with Jess; she shows him the attention that no one else does. Jess only shows Miss Edmunds his art since his father basically called him a sissy when he showed him his drawings when he was younger. Miss Edmunds, however, encourages him in his endeavors and offers to help him in any way she can. With her, he actually feels cared for and appreciated.
I, too, have students like Jess in my classroom. While they may not be as talented as him in art, they are in search of attention. There are so many students who are not getting the attention they need at home.  They find comfort in my classroom, and they know that they can trust me. This reminds me of how Jess trusted Miss Edmunds with his most prized possession: his art.
This story focuses on the importance of individuality and how valuable friendships truly are. I also believe it shows that even though you grow up, you are never too old to dream and imagine all the possibilities that await you. Hands down one of my favorite books of all time!
The Feature Film:
I, as usual, liked the book better than the movie. While Disney did a wonderful job at recreating the book, I missed the aspect of having to use my imagination when painting Terabithia in my head and experiencing the imaginative adventures of Jess and Leslie. It seemed that the movie paid closer attention to Jess and Leslie’s adventures in Terabithia. The special effects were amazing, but again, the viewer didn’t have to use their imagination at all. That was what I enjoyed most about the book.  In fact, MY Terabithia that I envisioned when reading the book was quite different than that which was shown in the movie. 
Happily, I can say that the movie stayed true to the book. It seems that most movies that are based on novels omit important scenes, and the endings are altered for the viewers’ pleasure. Even though there were scenes that were omitted, the movie still contained the part when Leslie gave Jess his art set and when Jess gave Leslie her dog. In the book, these exchanges happened on Christmas.  In the movie, Jess received the art set for his birthday and Leslie received the dog when Jess saw someone giving the dog away. These were only minor changes that didn’t have a big affect on the story.  There were a few more differences between the book and feature film too, but these differences were insignificant, in my opinion. 
My Recommendations:
Although I would consider myself a fan of both the book and the movie, I think an individual should definitely read the book first.  Imagining Terabithia and creating the fantasy world in your head, is one of the greatest treasures that accompanies reading the book.  I would think that if a person views the movie first, the scenes depicted in the movie will be pictured in your head when reading the book rather than envisioning your own Terabithia.    So…read the book first, and then watch the feature film.  Both are a real treat and are worth your time!

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