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Katherine Patterson essay

Authors who have two Newberry Medals, a Newberry Honor book, a Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction and a host of other award winning books to their credit are indeed rare. Katherine Patterson has delighted adolescents for many years with her books that truly speak to the heart.

Katherine was born in China to missionary parents and moved eighteen times before her 18th birthday. Her family returned to the United States due to World War II and Katherine had difficulty fitting in.

She sought refuge in books. She attended King College in Bristol, Tennessee where she majored in English and American Literature. She taught in a rural school for one year and then traveled to Japan for four years. While studying in New York, she met her husband John, a young Presbyterian minister.

The Church asked Katherine to write some curriculum materials for fifth and sixth graders and Katherine gladly did so in part to repay a scholarship. She began to write and write but nothing was published. A friend took her to a weekly creative writing class and she eventually became a writer.

Her books often deal with difficult subjects. In interviews, she relates that good books are the ones that make you experience the entire spectrum of life. Patterson contends that “books give you practice doing difficult things in life. They prepare you for things you are going to face or someone you know and care about is going through”. She also realizes that not all kids understand her books. Many times she has been told by children that they didn’t get it the first time but they reread it again. She sees this as an awesome compliment.

One of my favorite books written by Patteron is Bridge to Terabithia, a Newberry Medal winner, that has even been made into an ABC After School Movie. The story deals with the death of a child’s friend. Patterson wrote this story after her son David’s best friend Lisa was killed by lightning. The protagonist Jesse finds unexpected support from his family during this tragedy.

Jip, His Story, is another wonderful story that I enjoyed. Jip, short for Gypsy, because he supposedly fell off a Gypsy wagon, is raised on the town poor farm. The story is surprising as Jip is in fact a child of a slave and master that was left by his mother so that he could escape slavery. The master returns to try to claim Jip but Jip, with the help of a teacher and a Quaker family escapes north to freedom.
Patterson’s books are imaginative but still believable and teach us about the tenacity of the human spirit. Her characters are well-developed and easy with to identify.

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