Friday, February 16, 2007

In a Theatre Near You; Bridge to Terabithia Opens to Strong Reviews

It's too bad, but most librarians cringe when they hear that a great book is NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE! COMING TO A THEATRE NEAR YOU! The new movie based on Katherine Paterson's Newbery Award book, A Bridge to Terabithia has opened to a really good reviews, and now the question for those of us who love the book is whether to encourage kids to see this movie before they read the book.

I still cringe when I think of that slapstick scene in the movie Because of Winn-Dixie, in which Winn-Dixie (the dog) yanks down a Barney Fife-like policeman's pants as he hastily scrambles into his squad car. Because of Winn-Dixie was a very good book, and the movie had a cast of talented actors, but it was ruined by its script.

Maybe Bridge will fare better. It's a meaningful story of two children, Jess and Leslie, who meet as rivals for the fastest runner in the class, and become soul mates as they create an imaginary kingdom called Terabithia, where they defeat fantastical dragons and villains and build a deep friendship. When Leslie drowns on a solo visit to Terabithia, Jess has to find a way to confront his loss.

Will Hollywood find a way to bawdlerize a simple but moving children's novel? We'll see.

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  • thanks for this blog...I have two boys(8 and 10 yrs. old) who love to read and read and read...sometimes I ran out of books to recommend. So your blog is God send. :-)

    By Blogger Frieda, at 12:14 AM  

  • Dear Frieda,
    I appreciate your kind words! As a librarian, kids often said "Find me a good book," and I had a sort of sinking feeling. I'd always fall back on the old "reference interview" format, where you ask questions to find out what a "good book" is for the person waiting hopefully in front of you! There are so many good books out there, old and new, that sometimes it's hard to come up with the right ONE.
    Luckily the library catalog program we have has great keyword and subject searches, and I tried to teach my third and fourth graders to use it for themselves, because I knew I wouldn't always be there to find the "good book" for them.
    The good part was when they finished the book and told me "That was the best book! Do you have another one just like it?" So I know what you mean about your children. Just remember that you're so lucky to have kids that read and read.

    By Blogger GTC, at 9:12 AM  

  • I will have to reread this book. I frequent the movies forum on Craigslist, and there has been a fair amount of discussion about it. A man took his 6-year-old to see it and was very upset at the ending (apparently, and surprisingly, he'd never read the book). It turned into an interesting discussion about whether we should spare children from serious themes or help them confront them. I guess the answer will be different for each person, and there is no definitive answer, but as children's entertainment seems to shy away from the serious in favor of the silly, it's a discussion worth having.

    By Blogger Library Diva, at 9:21 PM  

  • Some of you may have heard a radio interview of Katherine Patterson last weekend on the movie, for which, I learned, her son David Patterson wrote the screenplay.

    She mentioned that the book actually grew out of a similar experience of David's. He became friends with a girl in his classroom at the age of six, and when she died suddenly at the age of seven, he had a grief experience like that of the main character Jesse. Mrs. Patterson explained that she wrote the book because she thought children needed to have the experience of reading about loss before they experienced it in their own lives.

    Of course, a parent should know that this book looks at loss after a death and should consider his/her own child's sensitivity and maturity before seeing the film WITH them.

    By Blogger GTC, at 8:02 PM  

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