Posted by: jeannineatkins | April 8, 2010

Remembering and Writing

The tragedy of Phoebe Prince has brought forth the voices of many wise and brave authors against bullying. My children’s lit class just read Bridge to Terabithia, and beyond its story of an important friendship and loss, there’s a sub-plot of bullying. Remember seventh grader Janice Avery tormenting younger children? Remember her stealing a Twinkie from Jess’s little sister, and the revenge he and his friend Leslie enacted, faking a love note from a boy? Which, of course, was really very mean. Then the revelation about Janice’s past. It’s all complicated and feels far too ordinary.

In Gates of Excellence, Katherine Paterson wrote: “When I walk into a room full of well-dressed people, I never walk in alone. With me is a nine-year-old who knows her clothes are out of a missionary barrel, her accent is foreign, and her mannerisms peculiar – a child who knows that if she is lucky she will be ignored and if unlucky she will be sneered at.”

And writing about our beloved Ambassador of Children’s Literature, Sarah Ellis, in From Reader to Writer, tells us: “When she was in grade one she didn’t get any valentines on Valentine’s Day. Her mother felt very sorry for her, and years later she asked Katherine why she had never written about that sad experience. Katherine replied, ‘But, Mother, all my stories are about the time I didn’t get any valentines.’”



  1. Wow, those are powerful quotes. I related to both of them on a visceral level…especially the one from Sarah Ellis.
    I love the way LJ makes every day feel like Valentine’s Day. 🙂

  2. “…a child who knows that if she is lucky she will be ignored…”
    How sad that being ignored is considered “lucky.” Yet so true for so many.

  3. Oh, my. That last line about says it all.

  4. Yes, indeed. That’s one of the reasons we all embrace Katherine Paterson.

  5. I love that valentine’s day quote, too. Katherine Paterson has written so many beautiful words, but that one has stuck with me through the years.

  6. Yes, seeing being ignored as lucky so swiftly shows just how painful things can be. So many sad stories. Hugs to you.

  7. Paterson writes to children with such respect for their griefs and everything else. Fortunately she also found Teribithias as a child that she brought into her adulthood, and shared with us all.

  8. Seriously, I just hear her name and start to feel glowy inside.

  9. Oh! What a beautiful, yet sad quote from Katherine.

  10. Luckily she can turn sadness into beauty. And it does make me think how often beauty does have that poignant edge to it.

  11. Hugs back, girlfriend!

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