Archive | March 2013

The Last Runaway

I finished another fantastic book this morning (at 3:30 am), and I thought I’d share it with you.  It’s called The Last Runaway and it’s written by bestselling author, Tracy Chevalier.  It’s a story about change, and courage, and hope.  It’s a story that will transport you back to the time of slavery and make you feel like you’re hiding alongside the running slaves.

“Ohio 1850.  For a modest English Quaker stranded far from home, life is a trial.  Untethered from the moment she leaves England, fleeing personal disappointment, Honor Bright is forced by family tragedy to rely on strangers in an alien, untamed landscape.  The men sweat and spit; the women drink whiskey and shoot copperheads, even as they stitch bonnets and quilts.  Nineteenth-century America is practical, precarious, and scarred by the continuing injustice of slavery.  In her new home, Honor discovers that principles count for little, even within a religious community famed for championing human equality.  Drawn into the clandestine activities of the Underground Railroad, a network helping runaway slaves escape to freedom, Honor befriends two exceptional people who embody the startling power of defiance.  Eventually she must decide if she too can act on what she believes in, whatever the personal cost.”

Tracy Chevalier does historical fiction better than any author out there.  She has a way of bringing the past to life, and bringing with it an air of truth.  I really enjoyed “living” Honor’s story, and plan to find some more historical fiction from this time period.  It seems that Chevalier has a way of doing that to me…making me go beyond her books to find out more.  The same thing happened to me when I read her book Remarkable Creatures a couple of years ago.  I’ve always remembered that book, and I am sure that will be true with this latest novel.

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Navigating Early

I have been eagerly awaiting Clare Vanderpool’s follow up novel to her Newbery Award winning novel, Moon Over Manifest.  Let me tell you that Navigating Early was well worth the wait!

ImageAfter his mother’s death at the end of World War II, Jack Baker is suddenly uprooted from his home in Kansas and placed in a boys’ boarding school in Maine.  There he meets Early Auden, the strangest of boys, who reads the number pi as an unending story and collects clippings about sightings of a black bear in the nearby mountains.  Feeling lost and adrift, Jack can’t help being drawn to Early, who refuses to believe what everyone accepts to be the truth about the great Appalachian bear, timber rattlesnakes, and the legendary school hero known as the Fish, who was lost in the war.  When Jack and Early find themselves alone at school, they set out for the Appalachian Trail on a quest for the great black bear.  Along the way, they meet some truly strange characters, several of them dangerous, all lost in some way, and each a part of the pi story Early continues to reveal.  Jack’s ability to be a steadfast friend to Early will be tested as the boys discover things they never knew about themselves and others.

Navigating Early makes the reader feel as if he/she is walking around in all directions trying to find something to hold on to in the story, something to help make sense of it all…just like the characters.  I believe that in Early Auden, Vanderpool has given us a character for the ages who will be remembered in the world of children’s literature for many years to come.  Navigating Early is a pleasant surprise that will delight many readers of different ages.  I am quite confidant that with this new novel Vanderpool is navigating her way to a second Newbery Award.Image