This book reminded me a bit of To Kill a Mockingbird in its setting and main characters. Both books takes place in the south. While the core themes of it differ, both are essentially stories about growing up. Katherine Paterson seems to capture childhood so well. When Jess and Leslie create and explore Terabithia, I remember my own childhood of imagining other worlds, fantastic creatures and adventures. They even refer to Narnia. I remember reading that series, and trying desperately to find a wardrobe. I’m sure I hid in a wardrobe once, but alas, not gateways. The only thing that bothered me about this book is that I predicted the ending early on, and initially found it a bit contrite. I do not blame the book because if I had read it when I was 10, I probably would not have found it contrived since now I’m marred by years of books, movies and television. It’s hard for me to review very well written books, especially children’s ones such as this because it just comes down to the writer’s ability to write prose and experiences that capture readers. Paterson allowed me to be nostalgic, and I only wish I had read this when I was younger because I know I would have loved it and understood it even more than I do now.
The movie was adapted by Disney this year. Overall, I think they did a decent job. It could have been a lot worse, and while they changed some things such as the time setting of the book (present day instead of the 1970s in the book) and other little details, I found they kept the important things and tried to accentuate certain details the book was subtle yet important on (Jess’s father and their relationship). I do not think the movie is a replacement is for the very well written book about growing up and the values of imagination and friendship. I liked the movie well enough, and considering what I’ve heard of other films in this demographic, it probably is good as a stand alone film and more worth kids’ (and adults too) time.