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After the first week of school, Leslie has beat the racers each day. Jess gives up the idea of being the best runner at the elementary school, and no one seems to be enjoying running anymore anyway.
Since it's Friday, Jess is excited about music class. He ran into Miss Edmunds earlier and she asked him how his drawing was going, which made him feel great.
At music class, she's warm and welcoming and invites Leslie in. They sing "Free to be You and Me," and when the song's over Jess smiles at Leslie. He decides to change and be her friend.
She can tell he feels differently, and they ride the bus home together. She talks about where she used to live and how she misses her old school.
She tells him they moved because her parents are "reassessing their value structure" and even though it's hardest on her, she agreed.
They get off the bus with May Belle.
Jess tries to bring up money and how farming is hard; embarrassed, Leslie tries to let him know delicately that they're pretty well off.
Back at school there's a bigger problem: Leslie's family doesn't have a TV.
Everyone finds out when their teacher Mrs. Myers makes a big fuss in class about what a great essay Leslie wrote about scuba diving. Even Leslie knows it's bad to have Mrs. Myers praise you and that it only gathers a lot of enemies.
Listening to the essay freaks Jess out and he worries he's going to drown.
Mrs. Myers assigns them homework, which is to watch a program about Jacques Cousteau and write a response. Other students ask about assignment details and kiss up, but Leslie asks what she should do since she doesn't have a TV.
Jess knows that was a big mistake and people are going to make fun of her. Sure enough, at recess he sees a bunch of girls teasing her. She runs off.
He waits by the girls' bathroom and tries to console her, but doesn't do a very good job.
On the bus ride home that afternoon, Leslie isn't paying attention and sits in a part of the bus that's reserved for seventh graders – yikes. Jess tries to get her out in time before the bullies come, but it's too late, and has to face the mean Janice Avery.
He distracts Janice by calling her fat and they escape to the front of the bus. This helps them bond, but Janice is going to have it in for Jess.
Leslie asks him to hang out when they get off the bus. They put May Belle off by giving her some of Leslie's new paper dolls. This distracts her and she leaves the two of them in peace.
Jess and Leslie go out to the field by the woods behind their houses and swing on a rope.
Leslie says they need their own special place that would be private and only theirs: a "country" where they could "be the rulers" (4.98). She says they will have to use the rope to swing across the gully and get into their secret country, which will be like Narnia.
She picks a place right inside the nearby woods, and says it will be called Terabithia. Jess thinks she's the one who's better at talking like a Terabithian, but he's good at building their secret fort.
She encourages Jess to draw, and they both feel safe in their new land.
On another bus ride home, Janice causes a fuss and gets Jess kicked out. When he makes it to Terabithia, Leslie tells him she's angry and says they have to stand up for themselves. She wants to save the whales and tells him the story of Moby Dick.
A few months later, they're good friends. People tease them at school. During recess they get to hang out, which becomes the only thing besides music class that's good about school at all.
Leslie acts perfect but secretly she's really mischievous. She makes up mean stories about their teacher and encourages Jess to daydream.
By November it's getting chilly and harder to spend much time in Terabithia. Jess observes Leslie's relationship with her parents: she calls them by their first names, and they are writers. They act humble, but Jess can tell they have a lot of money. He feels out-of-place at their home, and thinks Leslie is out-of-place at his.
Even though his family disapproves, having a friend like Leslie makes Jess happy, and Terabithia transforms him.
Leslie takes him to the pine forest, which had always scared him, and tells him it's the most "sacred" (4.146) part of Terabithia.