Monday, December 8, 2014

Interview with Katherine Paterson

NPR ran a fascinating interview with Katherine Paterson the other day.  This is the author of Bridge to Terabithia, a book that is almost universally taught in elementary school, at least where I live.  She also wrote The Great Gilly Hopkins and Jacob Have I Loved, two other well-known books.

Author Of 'Bridge To Terabithia': Messages Are Poison To Fiction

I've always had a lot of love and respect for Judy Blume because of her status as an author of a lot of banned and challenged books, but it turns out Bridge to Terabithia has had its struggles too.  And what she said about it really moved me:

You love your own book — I certainly love my books — and it's like somebody attacks your child, initially. But then, the more you write the more you realize that if a book has any power, it also has the power to offend, and there were many people offended by this book. And I'm sorry, because I don't like to offend people, but I know it was a story that I had to tell, and I had to tell it in the way I told it.

It's hard not to respect someone who can say something like that.

As it turns out, though, Bridge to Terabithia was not taught as universally as I thought: One of my good friends, who is younger than me, never read it in school.  I highly recommend this book to anyone who didn't read it in school -- and even to anyone who did, but who hasn't read it since.  It's a beautiful book, and even if it's difficult because of its sadness, it's also an important book in children's literature.

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