This Newbery Award-winning story is as profoundly affecting now as when it was first published in 1977. Jess Aarons has practiced all summer to be the fastest fifth-grader at Lark Creek Elementary in backwater Virginia. But on the first day of school, Leslie Burke, the new girl who isn't even supposed to be on the boys' side of the playground, beats him. She beats everyone.
That's the end of Jess's running dream, but the beginning of many others. Leslie is Jess's new neighbour, the only child of two writers who have moved to the country to "reassess their value structure." They don't even have a TV. But everything that makes Leslie weird to the small-town masses makes her wonderful to Jess. She’s so accomplished, so smart, so brave.
When Leslie suggests that they create a secret kingdom of which they would be the rulers, Jess is frightened, but intrigued. By just swinging over the dried-up creek bed into a shadowy part of the forest they call Terabithia, Jess becomes a king and Leslie a queen. Here, Jess doesn't worry about the school bully or his poor, squabbling family of sisters. Leslie opens a new world of independence and intellect to him. In Terabithia, he can talk aloud and be an artist and rule a kingdom. But when their reign comes to a tragic end, Jess must use the courage Leslie has helped to uncover in order to carry on.