Beloved children’s author Paterson to read Nov. 17-18

Acclaimed children’s author Katherine Paterson, who wrote of Bridge to Terabithia, will host a pair of events for the 2003-04 Center for the Humanities in Arts & Sciences’ Writers Series Nov. 17-18.

At 8 p.m. Nov. 17, Paterson will read from her work in Anheuser-Busch Hall, Room 204.

Katherine Paterson
Katherine Paterson

At 4 p.m. Nov. 18, she will lead a seminar and audience discussion on the craft of writing in McMillan Café, McMillan Hall, Room 115.

Paterson has written more than 20 books for young people, including Bridge to Terabithia (1977) and Jacob Have I Loved (1980), both winners of the Newbery Medal; and The Great Gilly Hopkins (1978), winner of the Newbery Honor Award.

Other novels include Come Sing, Jimmy Jo (1985), Flip-Flop Girl (1994), Preacher’s Boy (1999) and The Same Stuff as Stars (2002).

Picture books include The King’s Equal (1992) and The Angel and the Donkey (1996), as well as the “I Can Read” books The Smallest Cow in the World (1988) and Marvin One Too Many (2001).

Paterson also is the author of several essay collections, including Gates of Excellence (1981) and The Invisible Child (2001), which explore the craft of writing for children. Her numerous awards include the prestigious Hans Christian Andersen Medal (1998) for her body of work.

Paterson is known for crafting perceptive stories of children doing the difficult work of growing up. Bridge to Terabithia, her breakthrough novel, tells the story of Jess, the fastest boy in the fifth grade, and Leslie, a tomboy newcomer who threatens his title.

Yet despite their competition — or perhaps because of it — the two grow close and create the magical, imaginary land of Terabithia, a secret kingdom in the woods. In one tragic moment, however, Terabithia shatters into grief and loss, yet also becomes, through sheer strength of will, an enduring testament to the power of friendship.

Friendship and transformation also lie at the heart of The Great Gilly Hopkins, which tells the story of Gilly, a jaded foster child who, when placed in a new home, is forced to confront her own racial prejudices. Jacob Have I Loved (the title refers to the biblical story of Jacob and Esau) examines themes of jealousy and isolation through the turbulent relationship between a pair of twin sisters, Louise and Caroline.

The School Library Journal praises The Same Stuff as Stars, Paterson’s most recent book, as a “beautifully written, wonderfully told story that exposes some of the most disturbing parts of our society while at the same time teaching the value of each and every person. … A new novel by Paterson is cause for great celebration and this one more than measures up.”

Publishers Weekly concurs, adding that “few authors explore the theme of what defines a family with more compassion and sensitivity than Paterson.”

Paterson was born in Huai’an, China, the daughter of missionary parents. She grew up in China and the United States and worked for several years in Japan. She lives in Barre, Vt.

Both University events are free and open to the public and are sponsored by The Center for the Humanities. Copies of Paterson’s works will be available for purchase, and a book-signing and reception will be held after each program.

For more information, call 935-5576.

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