Navigating Early

Navigating Early9780385742092_p0_v1_s260x420Navigating Early

Clare Vanderpool, Author

Delacourte Press, MG Fiction, 2013

Suitable for Ages: 10-14 (5-8 grades)

Themes:  Adventure, Journey, Appalachian Trail, Boarding Schools, Eccentricity, Loss

Synopsis:  When Jack Baker’s mother dies, his father, a WW II Navy captain, boxes up their lives in Kansas and moves them to Maine.  Jack is enrolled in the Morton Hill Academy and his father returns to his military job.  Jack struggles with making friends until he meets Early Auden, a strange but curious boy.  Jack and Early share two things in common — the loss of loved ones and distant fathers. Early is a gifted mathematical genius and is obsessed with the Pi =3.14. Early sees numbers in colors, images and creates a spellbinding story about Pi.  Early is certain that Pi is lost and the boys embark upon the journey of their life to find Pi on the Appalachian Trail.  Jack knows the constellations and navigates their trip as they encounter sea, pirates, timber rattle snakes, an old woman, lost souls, buried secrets, deep forests, caves and catacombs, and a Big Black bear.  Early’s gift of taking information and seeing what others miss keep the boys one-step ahead of danger.  The ending is unexpected but more than satisfying.

Why I like this book: This is one of the most complex books I’ve reviewed for middle graders.  Clare Vanderpool (Moon Over Manifest) has written a very emotional and compelling novel that tugs at her reader’s heartstrings and has them glued to their seats.  It is a story playing out within a story, and sometimes the lines of reality become blurred for both the boys when their hearts are involved.  This is a story about two boys searching for someone who is lost while trying to find themselves along the way.  Early would probably be diagnosed on the autism spectrum and a savant today, but the author doesn’t want to label him — so I haven’t labeled him in my tags.  Navigating Early is definitely a stand-out novel and I highly recommend it for middle graders and young adults.

Resources:  You may want to visit Clare Vanderpool at her website where readers can learn more about Navigating Early.  Teacher resources are also available.  Clare Vanderpool won the Newberry Award for her novel Moon Over Manifest.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

25 thoughts on “Navigating Early

    • Cathy I agree. There was so much I wanted to say about this book, but didn’t touch on everything. This book is captivating. I’m glad you liked it as well. This was my first exposure to Clare Vanderpool and she is a master at story telling.

  1. Wow. It sounds like a mesmerizing book. I’ve read Moon Over Manifest, and was very impressed by it. This one sounds impressive in very different ways. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about it.

    • Clare Vanderpool is a brilliant story teller. I was hooked after the first few chapters. There is so much depth to this story that I barely skimmed the surface. I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s in the running for a Newberry for this book. It is that good!

  2. This sounds like a fabulous read! I love emotionally complex books for this age group as it causes them to really stop and think! I have sisters that would be interested, I will have to check it out!

  3. Sounds wonderful. From the first comment too, it sounds like it was well written. A book like this definitely needs to be done right. I’ll have to check it out. Thanks for sharing.

    • I’m glad you liked the review. Powerful MG novel with many creative ways to use in the classroom. Wouldn’t surprise me if Vanderpool wins the Newberry for this masterpiece!

    • You know it took me until page 200 to really get into Moon Over Manifest. But, I ended up loving it. Vanderpool is an excellent author and her books make you feel like you’re reading something special. I will have to say that I loved Navigating Early even more.

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