Bridge to Terabithia author to visit MC

Renowned author of children’s and young adult books, Katherine Paterson will be coming to the area in April for “Terabithia and Beyond: Celebrating the Life and Work of Katherine Paterson.”

Paterson has written numerous decorated and widely read books, including two Newbery Medal winning tales, “Bridge to Terabithia” in 1978, and “Jacob Have I Loved” in 1981. Paterson has received the National Book Award twice: in 1977 for ‘The Master Puppeteer,” and in 1979 for “The Great Gilly Hopkins.

Paterson also received the Hans Christian Andersen award in 1998, was named a Living Legend by the Library of Congress in 2000, and received the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award in 2006.

Instrumental in bringing Paterson to the area was the Rev. Dr. Anne McKee, campus minister at Maryville College and a longtime fan of Paterson’s work. McKee said one of the best aspects of Paterson’s work was that she tackles serious issues in a way that children can understand.

McKee is also a fan of the theological undertones often expressed in Paterson’s works. Paterson herself being the daughter of missionaries to China uses these undertones remarkably well to espouse the theological virtues that we are loved, that we should be kind and that there is always room for forgiveness. Paterson writes these virtues without sounding like she’s preaching to her readers.

“You don’t have to be religious to like Katherine Paterson, because she’s a really good storyteller,” McKee said.

McKee then explained that Paterson was being brought to the campus and greater area as part of the traditional “February Meetings”. These meetings have been held on campus for over 100 years and are concerned with the idea of what in means for Christians to live well in complicated times.

Paterson’s visit also serves as a kickoff event for MAST (Maryville Adventures in Studying Theology) a Lilly Endowment program designed to strengthen youth ministry in the area. The campus has also partnered with Westminster Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, which Paterson will also visit.

The events will start on April 22 at the Blount County Public Library at 2PM. Children are welcome to visit the library to read Paterson’s work. The following day, Paterson will be visiting Westminster Presbyterian Church at 2PM to discuss her methods of writing from the point of view of young people.

Later that day, at 5PM there will be a screening of the new “Gilly Hopkins” film at the Clayton Center’s Lambert Recital Hall. On April 24, Paterson will be speaking about her new book “Stories of My Life” at 7PM in the Lambert Recital Hall. On April 25 at 1PM in Lambert will be the inaugural MAST lecture, which will be a presentation by Katherine Paterson on the influence of theology in her work.

An event worthy of special notice is “Coffee With Katherine,” which will also take place on April 25 at 9:30PM in Thaw Hall. It will be celebration of Paterson’s work and McKee has invited anyone who has read any of Paterson’s works to submit a short (roughly 500 word) essay to McKee. The best ones will be read to Paterson at the event and anyone whose essay is read will receive a book by Paterson. All events both on and off campus are free of charge and open to the public.

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