Katherine Paterson’s Book

Warning: Spoilers.  If you haven’t read the book or seen the movie and don’t want to know the ending, then do NOT read this entry.

I read Katherine Paterson’s book The Bridge to Terabithia when I was the protagonist’s age, a ten-year old fifthgrader.  Checked out of the library of my fourth (and last) elementary school, I read the book in one afternoon.  Like Janus Gate, who read the book at the same age as me, I remembered only these things about the book: the footrace, in which Leslie wins; the imperfect family of Jess; the special tree and the magical kingdom that they dreamed up to escape from their imperfect lives at home and at school; and Leslie’s accidental death.

So when I saw the preview trailer for the movie — with all that CGI of Terabithia — I thought, “Oh no, they’ve ruined the book.”  But when I started reading the reviews (like in the Bunny’s entry) about the movie — especially from folks who never read the book, who expected a Narnia-type movie and was surprised (some happily, some not) that it was about childhood friendships and grief over the death of a best friend — then I felt relief.   And when I finally saw the DVD with the Hubby and Janus Gate yesterday and saw, in the Bonus Features, Katherine Paterson herself, talking about the origins of the story, the adaptation to the movie, and the importance of the book, albeit published in 1977, thirty years later, I realized that I had to get the copy of the book.

For I had forgotten many of the details from the book, and, as in any movie adaptation, I knew that the screenwriter had to leave some things out. 

Especially Katherine Paterson’s language:

Jess drew the way some people drank whiskey. The piece would start at the top of his muddled brain and seep down through his tired and tensed-up body. Lord, he loved to draw. Animals, mostly. Not regular animals like Miss Bessie and the chickens, but crazy animals with problems—for some reason he liked to put his beasts into impossible fixes. He would like to show his drawings to his dad, but he didn’t dare. When he was in first grade, he told his father that he wanted to be an artist when he grew up. He’d thought he would be pleased. He wasn’t. “What are they teaching in that damn school?” he had asked. “Bunch of old ladies turning my son into some kind of a—” He had stopped on the word, but Jess had gotten the message. It was one you didn’t forget, even after four years.


He screamed something without words and flung the papers and paints into the dirty brown water. He watched them all disappear. Gradually his breath quieted, and his heart slowed from its wild pace. The ground was still muddy from the rains, but he sat down anyway. There was nowhere to go. Nowhere. Ever again. He put his head down on one knee. “That was a damn fool thing to do.” His father sat down on the dirt beside him. “I don’t care. I don’t care.” He was crying now, crying so hard he could barely breathe.  His father pulled Jess over on his lap as if he were Joyce Ann. “There. There,” he said, patting his head. “Shhh. Shhh.”

Now, ain’t that language beautiful or what?


About lizardqueen

If single-mothering were a paid job, I'd be rich. However, it doesn't, so I write (which doesn't pay the bills) and teach (which does). I'm overly-educated in the liberal arts, but that doesn't hinder my ability to be pragmatic and realistic. YAY.
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2 Responses to Katherine Paterson’s Book

  1. lizardqueen says:

    Hi, Carrie,

    I can commiserate. Flea infestations make life one, itchy living hell. Bleah. I had an infestation back in April of this year, with another reoccurrance in June.


    1) Getting rid of the fleas:

    Really, you gotta treat your cats at the same time as you treat your house. Flea bathe them, with a good flea shampoo and that little itty flea comb to comb out the fleas. It’s messy and (depending on the cat) potentially dangerous, but that’s what you gotta do. The put a flea collar on ’em (after towel drying) and put flea drops between their shoulders. It’s a triple-whammy flea-b-gone on the cats.

    As for the house, flea bomb the sucker. I use all three in the three pack flea bomb/fumigators. Then I spray the living crap (as in, three to four full cans worth) out of my house, including bedding and especially where the cats tend to sit around in the house — which is *everywhere*, mind you. Yeah, I leave the house and let out of the cats for a couple of hours — don’t want to inhale flea poison.

    I wash *all* bedding, blankies, and even clothes (if they’re scattered around the house). Then, after a day for the flea poison to do its goodness, I vacuum the entire house (I have carpet and rugs).

    Sometimes, I even follow up the vacuuming with another round of flea spray around the house — just in case.

    This is for a *bad* infestation, when preventative measures fail (or have been neglected). Really, I ought to get vet-prescribed Frontline as a sure-fire preventative, but I keep forgetting to until I’ve taken care of the infestation. And the fleas are pretty much under control (that is, dead or dying) so I don’t bother because it’s too late.

    2) Taking care of the flea bites:

    Over the counter, I use hydrocortison cream 1%, Benadryl Extra Strength Relief Gel 2%, lavender oil, and tea trea oil. It’s to help with the itching, as well as help with healing (especially the essential oils).

    I’m prone to skin infections, so I also have in my arsenal a prescription-only steriodal cream called triamcinolone acetonide cream 1%, which I use sparingly since its major side effect looks like weird stretch marks.

    So that’s about it about advice on fleas. And thank you for finding this “cyberbottle” — my little ol’ blog. I hope what I write is worth reading for ya! And good luck about the special ed license — we always need good teachers! 🙂


  2. Carrrie says:

    Hello, Lizard Queen!! I am not a blogger. I was actually just googling around (looking for information on treating flea bites) and found an old post of yours on that very topic. Your legs and feet were covered with them, as are mine right now. I’ve gotten chewed up before, but never this badly. I’m in the mountains of NC, and we have had a terribly dry year. Plus, I was away for a month, and my very distracted Hubby ignored the cats’ problem with it until we had a full-blown infestation. I am miserable. The itch is all-consuming – worse than poison ivy. Any suggestions?? I have read lots of things, spent all summer treating my house and my bites, and the status quo holds. The only relief I get is from a couple of glasses of cabernet…can’t do that ALL the time (wish I could!).

    Also, I am writing you because in more recent post I noticed your affinity for “Bridge to Terebithia,” which I absolutely adored at age 12, and I was very pleased with the film…and “Wish You Were Here.” That song is so perfectly crafted, music and lyrics…one of my anthems…you know how you have an arsenal of anthems that could be the background to a video of your life? I think you do know.

    I sensed a kindred spirit so I thought I would write…for advice on fleas and just to say hello, having waded into the electronic sea and found a cyberbottle.

    I am 33, married, mountain girl, teaching assistant about to get my special ed license, lapsed Catholic. My name is Carrie Arrowood, and my friends think it hilarious (and somehow creative) to call me Carrie Underwood. I don’t have her looks, talent, or money. Dern. Maybe if I did, I wouldn’t be covered in flea bites.

    Hope you write!


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