Katherine Paterson's Bridge to Terabithia follows the adventures of Jesse Aarons, an artistic and moody boy who develops a friendship with Leslie Burke, an outcast at school and the creator of the fantasy kingdom of Terabithia. Together, Jesse and Leslie deal with the struggles of their real lives by escaping to this imaginary land, which they have "constructed" across a creek in the woods.
One day, Miss Edmunds invites Jesse to join her on a tour of some art galleries in Washington. Jesse accepts, not realizing that Leslie would attempt to travel to Terabithia alone that day. The girl hits her head and drowns in the creek, which devastates Jesse--who finds out about this tragedy when he returns home--beyond belief.
The book concludes with Jesse taking the time to build a true bridge over the creek and allowing his sister, May Belle, to cross over to Terabithia as the new queen of the land.
In the last chapter, the characters all reflect on and deal with the loss of Leslie in different ways. Jesse wonders if the magic of Terabithia will still be there. He is upset by Leslie's death, and thinks about how he does not want to die himself. He wonders about her last moments, and if she was scared.
Jesse's teacher consoles him, and tells him that it is ok to remember her. Leslie's parents do not want to remain in their new house because being around so many reminders of Leslie is too painful, so they are moving.
Jessie does return to Terabithia, to get his paint set but also to see if the magic is still there. He is both curious and nervous. He decides to move on, and does so by bringing his little sister May Belle to Terabithia with him, to share the magic with her.