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Jess Aarons is a shy, self-conscious fifth-grader who is the fastest runner in his class. He is also one of the few African-American students at his all-white school. When a new girl, Leslie Burke, moves into the neighborhood, Jess is initially resentful. But the two eventually become friends and create a secret kingdom in the woods behind Jess’ house, which they call Terabithia. Jess and Leslie spend hours in Terabithia, where they are the rulers and can do anything they want. The kingdom is a place of escape for Jess, who often feels like an outsider at school. When Leslie dies unexpectedly, Jess is devastated. But with the help of his family and friends, he is eventually able to come to terms with her death and continue to visit Terabithia in his imagination.
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