As they wrestle with grade school social conflicts and share a fantasy land, ten year old Jess learns from Leslie's bright character and values, until tragedy teaches him to adopt and live by those values.
Jess trained to be the fastest runner in 5th grade, but when he defended Leslie's right to run against the boys there was an unexpected result. She beat everyone. Jess saw a beauty in her gait, and she saw justice in him. As companions they deal with difficult school mates and escape to their imaginary forest kingdom of Terabithia. Jess gradually sees an approach to life brightly different from anything he had imagined. In a heart wrenching turn of events, Jess realizes what Leslie had shown him was worth sharing with those most worthy of it.