Monday, November 4, 2013

Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpoole This Weeks MMGM

Published: January 8, 2013
ISBN: 0385742096
Genre: Middle Grade fiction, historical fiction 
Publisher: Delacorte Books
Themes: adventure, friendship, loyalty, bravery,
Add it on: Goodreads, / Amazon / Barnes And Noble/ *Indie Bound*

About The Book: At the end of World War II, Jack Baker, a landlocked Kansas boy, is suddenly uprooted after his mother’s death and placed in a boy’s boarding school in Maine. There, Jack encounters Early Auden, the strangest of boys, who reads the number pi as a story and collects clippings about the sightings of a great black bear in the nearby mountains.
      Newcomer Jack feels lost yet can’t help being drawn to Early, who won’t 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 never returned from the war. When the boys find themselves unexpectedly alone at school, they embark on a quest on the Appalachian Trail in search of the great black bear.
       But what they are searching for is sometimes different from what they find. They will meet truly strange characters, each of whom figures into the pi story Early weaves as they travel, while discovering things they never realized about themselves and others in their lives.

First Line: If I'd known what there was to know about Early Auden that strangest of boys, I might have been scared off, or at least kept my distance.

What Other's Are Saying: “This multilayered, intricately plotted story has a kaleidoscopic effect, blurring the lines between reality and imagination, coincidence and fate.”Publishers Weekly

"This story of a poignant friendship of two heartbroken boys shifts quickly among genres...moving into territory more often claimed by high fantasy quests, heroic epics, wilderness adventures, and even mysteries. The incorporation of these familiar tropes give the book broad and fascinating appeal, and those that trust Early—and Vanderpool—to lead them through the treacherous woods will be pondering and debating the surreal experience for some time to come." —The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Bloggers Weigh In:

What I Thought: Once again Vanderpool has blown me away with her ability to weave an intricate plot anchored in place and oozing with voice. Jack says, "I wouldn't know. What with the waving wheat and the brilliant sunsets..." implying he never a needed to see "beyond" his horizon. The reality is Jack didn't have a choice whether to "venture beyond his own horizon" and Vanderpool shows Jack's loss of place and the fragile hold he has on his emotions. 
      The author uses carefully crafted sentences to create an ethereal voice when talking about pi. "Before the stars had names, before men knew how to use them to plot their courses, before anyone had ventured beyond his own horizon, there was a boy who wondered what lay beyond." Notice the word choices: before, beyond, ventured, wondered. They all create a sense of mystery, and through repetition the empty space is emphasized. We soon learn both boys are lost, and it's the quest that reveals their own sense of place, where they belong in the world.   

About The Author: 
Clare Vanderpool

Who: Clare Vanderpool, recipient of the 2011 Newbery Award, is a resident of Wichita, Kansas. She has a degree in English and Elementary Education and enjoys reading, going to the pool with her children, the television show Monk, and visiting the bookstores in her town. —Goodreads


  1. As a reader I didn't connect with this one as much as MOON OVER MANIFEST, but as a writer I can appreciate its multi-layered-ness.

  2. I loved this book! It is on my reading list for the Cybils, too.


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