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!
“After 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.
I put my hand on his shoulder. “That was a good service, Shady.”
“It was,” he agreed, but didn’t say more.
“Seems like everyone in this town’s got a story to tell.”
Shady nodded. “I believe you’re right about that. The Lord himself knew the power of a good story. How it can reach out and wrap around a person like a warm blanket.”
And that is just what Clare Vanderpool’s story, Moon Over Manifest, does. It wraps around you like a warm blanket. The characters, the town, and most of all the writing just keeps you wanting more. You are literally transported back to those lazy summer days when the heat and sun just forced you to move slower…do more thinking. I really loved this book! It is definitely worthy of the 2011 Newbery Award, and I am looking forward to more from this new author. Here is a quick synopsis of the book…
“Abilene Tucker feels abandoned. Her father has put her on a train, sending her off to live with an old friend for the summer while he works a railroad job. Armed only with a few possessions and her list of universals, Abilene jumps off the train in Manifest, Kansas, aiming to learn about the boy her father once was.
Having heard stories about Manifest, Abilene is disappointed to find that it’s just a worn-out old town. But her disappointment quickly turns to excitement when she discovers a hidden cigar box full of mementos, including some old letters that mention a spy known as the Rattler. These mysterious letters send Abilene and her new friends Lettie and Ruthanne, on an honest-to-goodness spy hunt, even though they are warned to “Leave Well Enough Alone.”
Abilene throws caution aside when she heads down the mysterious Path to Perdition to pay a debt to the reclusive Miss Sadie, a diviner who only tells stories from the past. It seems that Manifest’s history is full of colorful and shadowy characters–and long held secrets. And as those secrets are laid bare one by one, Abilene begins to weave her own story into the fabric of the town.”