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.