Study Guide

Bridge to Terabithia

Bridge to Terabithia Summary

Jess Aarons lives in a small town called Lark Creek and has a hard family life. He likes to draw and to run, and is kind of lonely; he's out-of-place in his family and the only person he really gets along with is his little sister May Belle. He's about to enter the fifth grade and dreams of being the fastest runner there. This dream is shattered on the first day of school, though, when a new girl named Leslie shows up and runs faster than anyone. At first Jess is crushed, but later he and Leslie end up becoming good friends.

Since they're both outcasts, Jess and Leslie spend a lot of time together. They take over a part of a nearby forest that's only accessible by swinging on a rope over the creek, and name it Terabithia. In this imaginary land, they're royalty. They can escape from the bullies and the boredom of fifth grade, and dream all they like. When the resident bully, Janice Avery, steals May Belle's Twinkies, Jess and Leslie get revenge on her by writing her a fake love letter and embarrassing her.

Most of the school year passes by. For Christmas, Jess gets Leslie a puppy, who becomes part of their kingdom in Terabithia. The two of them help Leslie's dad fix up their new home. When they find out Janice the bully is legitimately unhappy, they work together to comfort her.

By Easter, it's been raining really hard for a month and it's become more difficult to cross the creek to Terabithia. Leslie goes with Jess's family to church for Easter. After the service, Leslie and Jess, along with May Belle, argue about whether people go to hell if they don't believe in the Bible.

One day after Easter, Jess thinks it's too dangerous to go to Terabithia, with all of the rain that's been coming down. But he forgets all about it when the school music teacher, Miss Edmunds, calls and asks him to go with her to a museum. He goes and has one of the best days of his life. But when he comes home, he finds out that Leslie went to Terabithia without him and died when attempting to cross the creek.

At first, Jess can't believe it. Doesn't want to believe it. In meeting with Leslie's parents and spending time with her dog, he slowly begins to understand what he's lost…but also what he gained by having Leslie in his life at all. He goes to Terabithia to try and make sense of it, but his little sister follows him and almost falls into the creek herself. In rescuing her he realizes he's taken on some of Leslie's courage.

Later, Jess goes back to Terabithia and builds a bridge across the creek. When May Belle follows him again, he welcomes her to Terabithia and leads her across the bridge.

  • Chapter 1

    Jesse Oliver Aarons, Jr.

    • We hear the sound of a pickup, which means it's an OK time for Jess to get out of bed. He puts on his overalls but no shoes.
    • His sister May Belle asks where he's going, and he tells her to be quiet; he's going to go run.
    • He has to practice hard so he can be the very "fastest" runner in fifth grade – that's his big goal.
    • Jess has to be super quiet so he doesn't wake his mom or three other sisters. May Belle, the second youngest, really looks up to Jess, which can be a drag sometimes. He eases out of the house and passes their cow Miss Bessie.
    • He imitates the racers he sees on TV, calls "bang," and runs around the cow field. He doesn't have great technique, but he puts everything he's got into it.
    • The school he attends is short on resources, so at recess the big kids hog all the supplies, and the younger kids have to amuse themselves by doing stuff like racing.
    • Last year, he won a race, and became obsessed by running, even though he previously liked drawing. The whole day after he won, people called him the "fastest kid." He's determined to have that title next year – he'll have glory and his family, including May Belle and their dad, will be super impressed.
    • Jess is tired but keeps pushing himself until May Belle calls him in for breakfast.
    • When he comes in, his other sisters Ellie and Brenda make fun of him for sweating and stinking, and his mom tells him to wash off, totally interrupting his coffee drinking.
    • His mom tells him to put on a shirt, so he tells May Belle to go get it, and she does, even though he just bopped her on the head.
    • Their mom tells them there are lots of chores to do, and the two big sisters squirm out of it by fooling her into thinking she said they could go shopping in Millsburg. They even cajole her into giving them five bucks by saying their dad said they could have it.
    • When Brenda pushes for six bucks their mom gets angry and Ellie makes her sister wash the dishes.
    • This means Jesse has to do all the chores, even though he's now wiped out from running. His mom calls him lazy, which he thinks is rich.
    • When he's picking beans, May Belle lets him know that they're getting new neighbors at what used to be the Perkins' house.
    • In a moment of foreshadowing, the narrator tells us that later Jess will think it's ironic that this event didn't mean anything at the time even though it would mean so much in the long run.
  • Chapter 2

    Leslie Burke

    • That night, the two oldest sisters still haven't returned from shopping. Jess did all the chores, including canning beans with his mom. She wore herself out, so Jess had to make peanut butter sandwiches for their dinner, too.
    • The kids eat outside and look at their neighbors' place.
    • May Belle hopes they have a kid who can be her friend. Jess tells her she can play with Joyce Ann, but May Belle says she's a baby. This, of course, makes Joyce Ann bawl and their mom yell.
    • Jess gives Joyce Ann the rest of his sandwich, goes inside to his room, and starts to draw.
    • Jess loves drawing and makes a picture of a hippo falling off a cliff; it's a joke. He thinks May Belle will laugh at it if he explains it, and he'd like to show his dad, but isn't quite brave enough.
    • Four years ago, when he told his dad he wanted to be an artist, his dad criticized the school and teachers, and implied that they were making Jess into something less than a man. So, Jess keeps his art to himself.
    • His teachers don't give him props for the art either, though. The only person who encourages him is the music teacher, Miss Edmunds. Jess thinks she's hot, but knows that most of the other people in town don't take her seriously. But, she takes him seriously and thinks he's "unusually talented" (2.16).
    • Waiting for her class on Fridays is the only thing that gets Jess through the week. The other teachers dread it because they think she's a "hippie" and don't approve of her wearing pants.
    • So, other students love their time in her class, but act like they're too cool to be impressed.
    • Jess doesn't defend her but holds her beauty close inside; once she told him he was like a "diamond in the rough" (2.23).
    • Jess's mom brings him back to earth by reminding him he has to go milk the cow. While he's doing that, he wonders what his sisters bought – he would've picked up proper art supplies.
    • He hears his sisters arrive and knows they'll go bond with his mom – he feels alone.
    • May Belle comes to tell him that Ellie got a transparent shirt and their mom is really angry.
    • Then they hear their dad's truck. May Belle runs up and hugs their dad, and Jess is jealous because he feels like that's not something he's allowed to do.
    • All his dad says to him is that the milking should have been done earlier.
    • The following day, Jess is super tired, but after May Belle nags him, he goes for his run. He imagines Wayne is there running against him so he has competition.
    • Then he hears a voice asking him what he's doing.
    • He sees a person who could be a boy or a girl, who says "hi," and asks if they could be friends. He realizes she's a girl, and she says her name is Leslie Burke.
    • Jess thinks she would've been a good friend for May Belle. He doesn't answer her question, just introduces himself, says he has to work, and walks away.
  • Chapter 3

    The Fastest Kid in the Fifth Grade

    • The following week, at the beginning of the school year, Jess and Leslie meet again. In class, Leslie is like one of those things that's not like the others. Everyone else looks all dressed up and she's casual.
    • She's friendly but they all stare at her like she has three heads.
    • Their teacher Mrs. Myers has to squeeze the new girl in to their crowded classroom. When Leslie sits down and gets settled she looks up at everybody, and everybody else acts like they're not looking.
    • Jess thinks about who drew the initials on his desk, and how Mrs. Myers isn't supposed to be that nice.
    • He has to help pass out books, and Leslie tries to make eye contact with him. He tries to distance himself while also feeling pity for her on her first day – never an easy day.
    • A kid named Gary Fulcher asks him whether he'll be racing and Jess gets all excited and ready to take him down at the lunchtime race. He tunes their class out and starts drawing pictures.
    • Gary bugs him and tries to look at the picture. They scuffle and Jess steps on Gary's toe. The teacher reprimands them, and Jess feels really bad about having to stay in school for so many more years.
    • At lunch, Jess is trying to keep his head down and get to the race, but he gets distracted when he hears two other girls making fun of Leslie's yogurt. He drinks his milk really loudly to get them to stop poking fun of Leslie and turn their attention to him.
    • Mrs. Myers sends them out to recess, girls first, and the boys are super excited to run. They get divided into heats of four racers.
    • Jess has to go last, so he watches his competition. Leslie comes up and tries to talk to him but he tries to ignore her again.
    • Two boys named Jimmy and Clyde fight over who run their heat. Gary, who won his, says Clyde won, and they all squabble. Jess says they should both get to run.
    • Gary makes fun of him and says that's like letting a girl race. So Jess says they should do that too and asks Leslie if she wants to run. She says "yes."
    • This is scary but nothing bad happens.
    • The next heat goes and Jess feels confident about winning the whole thing.
    • He's doing great when his heat starts but Leslie passes him and wins easily. He's embarrassed.
    • Gary tries to make Leslie go off and play with the other girls, but she insists that she wants to compete in the final race.
    • Jess defends her, even though that means he won't get to run.
    • Leslie wins, and thanks Jess, saying he's the only person at school that's OK, as they walk back in.
    • On the way home, Jess ignores her again, though, and sits with May Belle on the bus. He watches Leslie run home afterwards and thinks she's almost "beautiful."
  • Chapter 4

    Rules of Terabithia

    • 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.
  • Chapter 5

    The Giant Killers

    • Leslie and Jess have lots of imaginary enemies in Terabithia, but in real life they have to face Janice Avery. She and her buddies go around bullying everyone.
    • Jess can't stop her from bullying May Belle. Their dad brings May Belle Twinkies from town and she brags about it on the bus. Jess isn't surprised at all when the big bully Janice immediately snags them. He can't do anything to stop her. May Belle calls him "yeller" (5.16) or a coward.
    • Leslie smoothes things over, saying Jess can't beat Janice up – the odds are stacked against him – but they'll figure out another way to get revenge for the Twinkies. They promise.
    • At Terabithia they plan a way to "ma[k]e a fool of" Janice (5.36) – Leslie says that's the best way to get her back.
    • Leslie thinks they should write her a love letter from Willard Hughes, whom Janice has a crush on; she'll tell people and get really embarrassed.
    • Jess teases her, and Leslie tells him about Hamlet, while he imagines what he could paint.
    • The next day they have to sneak around to deliver the letter. Leslie is lookout and distracts Mrs. Pierce while Jess finds the right desk and plants the letter for Janice.
    • At recess they realize she got the letter and are all proud.
    • On the bus ride home, Janice's friend Wilma tells everyone Janice has a date with Willard, and another boy, Billy, says that's a total lie. They have a big fight.
    • In Terabithia, Jess and Leslie feel a little bad, but not really. The next day, May Belle knows they defended her, and she's proud – even though it has to stay a secret.
  • Chapter 6

    The Coming of Prince Terrien

    • Everyone's looking forward to Christmas. Jess's older sisters tease him about Leslie and what he should get her for a present. Brenda insults Leslie, saying that she doesn't even look like a girl, and Jess gets super mad.
    • Afterwards, he feels closer to Leslie than anyone in his family, and feels like he doesn't belong. He fantasizes about belonging to another, better family.
    • Then he thinks about what he should get Leslie. He has barely any money, but really wants to give his friend a present. Jess considers giving her some drawings, but they aren't as good as he wants them to be.
    • He has to use the little money he has to buy presents for the other family members, like a Barbie for May Belle.
    • Jess thinks if he were rich he'd get Leslie a TV. He's despondent, riding the bus, but then he suddenly sees a sign out the window.
    • He jumps out, even though it's not his stop, and heads toward a place where puppies are being given away for free.
    • Jess has a plan: he gets the puppy all ready and arranges to see Leslie at Terabithia on Christmas Eve. He takes special care of the puppy getting over to Terabithia and isn't even mad when it pees on him.
    • Leslie loves the present. She asks what gender the puppy is and says his name will be Prince Terrien. She gives Jess a present of art supplies, but tells him the puppy is better.
    • Jess can't say how much that means to him.
    • He acts like the dog and they laugh really hard.
    • That night, Jess stays in a good mood and is nice to May Belle and even to Joyce Ann.
    • On Christmas, his dad gives him a cheap racing car set. It cost more than his dad could afford, but it's still wonky. Jess is sad that his dad doesn't feel good about the gift.
    • Everyone else is in a bad mood because of dissatisfaction with presents.
    • Jess's mom makes him go milk the cow, then compliments Ellie.
    • When he goes to milk Bessie, he runs into Leslie, and is happy again.
  • Chapter 7

    The Golden Room

    • Leslie's dad is fixing up their house, and needs Leslie to help out, because her mom is busy working. So Leslie can't spend as much time with Jess.
    • By himself, Jess can't find the same specialness in Terabithia. He needs Leslie.
    • But without her, life is sucky. His parents want him to do chores, and his little sisters bug him. Then he gets in trouble.
    • So, sometimes he takes Leslie's dog, who they're calling P.T., for a walk.
    • Everyone seems glum except for Leslie, who likes working on the house and hanging out with her dad.
    • Jess gets jealous of Leslie hanging out with her dad so much and feels left out. Leslie calls him on it and says he should just hang out with them and help at the house too.
    • At first this feels awkward, but then Jess really gets to like it. They sing, talk, and fix up the house, painting the living room gold. Everyone agrees they've made the home beautiful.
    • Leslie says it's magical, but doesn't give up the secret of Terabithia to her parents. Jess is glad that it's still only theirs to know about.
    • Later they go back to Terabithia for the first time in a month.
    • Leslie makes up a wonderful story about how they were gone fighting a war, and they must fight new enemies here to reclaim their land. After conquering their enemy, they go to the pine grove and have a thankfulness ceremony.
    • Back at school, Leslie has an encounter – though not of the bullying sort – with Janice Avery. Jess listens as she explains that she heard Janice crying in the girls' bathroom. Jess says they should help her. He encourages Leslie to go in and talk to Janice.
    • They're still talking when recess ends and Jess has to go to class. Leslie comes in late, but doesn't get into trouble. But this means Jess can't find out what happened until class is over, they ride the bus home, and are safe in Terabithia.
    • Leslie tells him Janice is interesting and has a hard life; her dad beats her up, and when she told her school friends, they told everyone. Then everybody found out, so she was embarrassed.
    • Leslie reassured her and told her to act like nothing happened, so it would all blow over.
    • She tells Jess that, because of his advice, she has a friend-and-a-half at school.
    • Jess is just glad they're each other's best friends.
    • Later, at bedtime, May Belle tells Jess she followed him and Leslie and knows where their special place is. He freaks out and bullies her into saying she won't ever tell anyone.
  • Chapter 8


    • By Easter, it's been raining for months. The creek Jess and Leslie cross to get to Terabithia is full of fast water and is actually pretty dangerous. Jess is a little worried about carrying Prince Terrien across just in case he slips into the water and dies.
    • Jess's sisters fight about what they're going to buy to wear to church on Easter, which is the one time they go all year. The fighting stops when they learn their dad's been fired and they can't afford new clothes anymore.
    • Brenda suggests they could buy new clothes and return them, and their dad gets really mad.
    • Jess escapes to milk Miss Bessie and meets up with Leslie. He doesn't even want to get into what's going on, but briefly explains. Leslie says she wants to go with them to church.
    • He squirts fresh milk into her mouth and P.T.'s, and they all laugh. They're interrupted by Jess's dad, and Leslie goes home. Jess's dad doesn't say anything.
    • Because Jess doesn't get any new church clothes, he's able to bring Leslie to Easter service. His mom is worried that Leslie won't look nice enough, but Jess thinks Leslie looks better than his attention-grabbing big sisters do.
    • They drive into town singing and then get to church. Jess is displeased with his sisters' behavior in comparison to Leslie's and tries to tune the whole thing out. He doesn't pay any attention at all during the service, and is glad when it's done.
    • Jess, Leslie, and the little girls wait outside. He's surprised when Leslie says how "interesting" it was. May Belle says it's scary and Jess agrees.
    • Leslie says she doesn't have to believe in it, even though it's in the Bible, and May Belle insists she has to, or "God'll damn you to hell when you die" (8.72). Leslie is shocked.
    • May Belle and Leslie both turn to Jess to back them up, and he reluctantly says May Belle is right. But he and Leslie sort of agree to disagree, although May Belle keeps bothering them and asking what would happen if Leslie died.
  • Chapter 9

    The Evil Spell

    • The following week it's raining really hard. Jess and Leslie are hanging out at her house, and Leslie says they should go to Terabithia, even though it's raining.
    • They start getting ready, but are interrupted by Leslie's mom. She's preoccupied and doesn't really try to stop them or ask them where they're going exactly. When she gets re-inspired, she races back to start typing again.
    • Leslie lends him a raincoat and hat, but there are no boots so they decide to just go barefoot. With P.T. beside them, they run to the creek's edge.
    • Here they pause because the water in the creek looks so gnarly.
    • Jess says maybe they should just wait to go 'til another day, but Leslie insists they should go forward. She says she'll take P.T. because the pup won't fit in Jess's coat. He tells her to be careful and she's impatient. She makes it across beautifully, and then Jess follows. He falls on the other side, and then they are Terabithians again.
    • The next few days, they return to Terabithia, even though it's raining still and the creek is even higher. The higher it gets, the more scared Jess becomes.
    • That Wednesday, it rains incredibly hard, and Leslie says they must be under a curse. She says they should go to their grove and pray with the spirits. So they do. Leslie prays there, but Jess is uneasy, and glad when they leave.
    • Jess sort of wishes they could be warm and dry and watch TV, so he's glad when Leslie suggests exactly that on the way home.
    • That night, Jess worries because it's still raining and he's too scared to go to Terabithia. He doesn't think Leslie will be upset that he can't go; he's sad that he was born without the courage gene, or something.
  • Chapter 10

    The Perfect Day

    • Jess is woken up by the sound of his dad's truck. His dad's gone looking for work.
    • He decides to get up and milk Miss Bessie, and he and May Belle banter.
    • While he's milking Miss Bessie, he thinks about fear and courage. He thinks that in the summer he'll face his fear and see if Leslie will help him learn to swim.
    • He's just gathering his courage to find the words to tell Leslie he doesn't want to go to Terabithia today when he's interrupted by May Belle – a phone call for him.
    • Miss Edmunds is calling, and she invites him to go to an art museum in Washington with her. He sneaks permission from his sleepy mom and accepts. It's not until they're on the road that he realizes he could've invited Leslie too.
    • Jess is excited to hang out with just Miss Edmunds, though, and to be going to an art gallery for the first time. He sees all the fancy Capitol buildings and thinks of how they would be familiar to Leslie.
    • Going into the museum reminds him of the specialness of being in Terabithia.
    • Being around the pictures is amazing. Jess is worried about not having any money for lunch, but Miss Edmunds treats him. He thinks he'll ask Leslie if he did the right thing later.
    • They go to the Smithsonian and look at an Indian exhibit. Jess is conflicted about whether he likes it.
    • When they're leaving, the sun has finally come out. Jess thinks he had a "perfect day […] worth anything he had to pay" (10.65). Miss Edmunds drops him off and he can't even find the words to thank her, but runs home full of joy.
    • But back at home, something's not quite right: his family is silent and worried. His mom cries, and Brenda finally tells him that Leslie is dead.
  • Chapter 11


    • Jess is stunned by the news. When his dad explains that Leslie was discovered in the creek, he doesn't believe it, saying Leslie was a great swimmer.
    • Jess's dad says the rope broke and Leslie "hit her head" (11.4).
    • Jess denies it, yelling. No one will look him in the eye except May Belle.
    • He says it's a lie and starts running. He can't even think. He hears his dad following him in the truck but doesn't want to stop.
    • Finally his dad pulls up ahead of him, picks up him up, and brings him home. Jess goes to bed.
    • He wakes up in the middle of the night from a bad dream, and thinks Leslie's death is part of the dream. He thinks that he should go get her and they'll go to Terabithia even though it's so late. He will say he's sorry for not inviting her to the city and tell her all about the experiences. The day would have been great, just in a different way.
    • He feels something bad he can't explain, but shakes it off while imagining the conversation he'd have with Leslie. When he remembers that he was afraid of going to Terabithia that day, he feels even worse. He tries not to think about that and concentrates on the great day he had in Washington until he falls back asleep.
    • When he wakes up, he realizes he didn't remember to milk the cow. But when he goes to do it his mom stops him and says his dad took care of it; then she makes him pancakes.
    • He thinks the bad feeling in his stomach must be hunger and eats ravenously. His sisters criticize him for not having more feeling. Jess blocks it out and keeps eating.
    • After his dad comes in, Jess's parents tell him they should go call on the Burkes. Jess is confused, and tries to deny what happened. His dad tells him again that Leslie is dead. Jess gets ready and he and his parents leave for the Burkes' house. May Belle wants to come but isn't allowed to.
  • Chapter 12


    • They go over to the Burkes', and find other people already there. P.T. is so glad to see Jess. They go into the gold room that Leslie helped paint.
    • Leslie's grandmother comes over to them, but then breaks down crying and has to leave.
    • Jess is relieved, because seeing everyone crying is upsetting, because he's not crying. He realizes he'll be "special" at school because his friend died, and wonders what Leslie will be buried in.
    • Leslie's dad comes in and hugs Jess, crying, before telling him that Leslie loved him and thanking him for being her friend.
    • Jess thinks about how Leslie would have made fun of this, but then her dad says that she's going to be cremated.
    • Suddenly, Jess realizes that she is really gone, and becomes even more angry and sad.
    • He thinks that she betrayed him by opening his eyes to this new realm and then abandoning him there.
    • He runs home angrily, and hits May Belle when she asks whether he saw the body. He goes to get his Christmas present from Leslie – paints and paper – and runs to the edge of Terabithia. He sees the rope and thinks that there's no more running competition; then he yells and throws the present into the water.
    • His father comes up and comforts him, and Jess cries and says he hates Leslie. When Jess reveals he's worried that Leslie went to hell, his father reassures him that she didn't and Jess calms down a bit.
    • They go home, and people are nicer to him, although May Belle is upset.
    • Leslie's dad comes over and asks if Jess can watch P.T. while they go to Pennsylvania. Having P.T. around makes Jess feel better.
  • Chapter 13

    Building the Bridge

    • That Saturday, Jess decides he wants to act like nothing happened, and milks Miss Bessie. He takes P.T. back to the creek to see if he can find his paints.
    • The weather has calmed down and the creek is a lot less scary. At the edge of Terabithia he wonders if it's still Terabithia any more. He uses a tree branch to get across and P.T. swims over.
    • Jess thinks that he needs to do something in Terabithia to honor Leslie and wishes she was there to tell him what it was. He wonders about death and whether it is frightening.
    • He and P.T. make Leslie a funereal wreath, and he takes it to the "sacred grove."
    • Jess feels peaceful but then hears May Belle screaming. He runs to Terabithia's edge and finds her stuck on the branch bridge.
    • Even though the situation is really dangerous, he keeps calming her down and reassuring her, and eventually helps bring her back across.
    • Once they're safe, she apologizes and says she wanted to help him not be lonely.
    • He tells her that everyone feels afraid, and thinks of Leslie.
    • They go home.
    • Back at school, Jess is saddened to see Leslie's desk is already gone. He's kept hoping he'll see her, or that she'll suddenly arrive, but the missing desk reminds him that really won't happen.
    • He feels bad that he even thought for one minute that he'd now be the fastest runner.
    • During the Pledge of Allegiance, Mrs. Myers tells Jess to go outside. She comes to talk to him in the hallway and says she's sorry. She tells him how special Leslie was and that he shouldn't forget her; Mrs. Myers will help him.
    • Jess feels bad for all the times he and Leslie made fun of Mrs. Myers, and thinks that he's grateful for the reminder and for how Leslie showed him a bigger world.
    • He thinks that he has to keep living, for Leslie, and for himself.
    • Later, Leslie's parents come back to town, only to move away again. They give Jess Leslie's art supplies and say he can have anything left at their house. Jess takes some lumber. Leslie's dad says he had wanted Jess to take P.T., but he needs to keep him.
    • The following day, Jess uses the lumber to build a bridge across the creek to Terabithia. He tells May Belle about being queen, takes her across the bridge, and introduces her to Terabithia.