Navigating Early
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Navigating Early

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  4,603 ratings  ·  1,024 reviews
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’...more
Hardcover, 306 pages
Published January 8th 2013 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
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Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg SloanNavigating Early by Clare VanderpoolDoll Bones by Holly BlackEscape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris GrabensteinFlora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo
Newbery 2014
2nd out of 94 books — 351 voters
The Runaway King by Jennifer A. NielsenThe False Prince by Jennifer A. NielsenThe School for Good and Evil by Soman ChainaniRump by Liesl ShurtliffThe Ability by M.M. Vaughan
Middle Grade Novels of 2013
32nd out of 325 books — 590 voters


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Community Reviews

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Mitch
Reading Navigating Early, I totally see why Clare Vanderpool won the Newbery last year. Hers are books that fall within that special category of middle grade fiction that speak as well to adults as to children, capturing not only the magic of childhood but also the hard hitting realizations of growing up. Even more impressively, I have to say her skillful yet subtle exploration of the themes of friendship, loss, and self discovery really snuck up on me here, and only serves to make this even mor...more
Sam
The best characters in children's literature are ones we can believe as people. We read about Ramona Quimby, or Dicey Tillerman, or Bud Caldwell, and we feel like they're living, breathing human beings, people we wouldn't be surprised to meet. This is true even in books that aren't realistic fiction -- although the adventures of Meg O'Keefe, Will Stanton, and Lyra Belacqua may be otherworldly, their personalities are still recognizable and sharply focused. And, maybe most of all, it's true of ch...more
Monica!
I picked up Navigating Early out of shame, because I STILL have not gotten around to reading Moon Over Manifest and I was hoping that reading another of Clare Vanderpool’s books would sort of redeem me in the eyes of my book-reading peers, all of whom have been very much, “But… but it won the NEWBERY how have you not READ it yet!?”

I’m sorryyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!

Unfortunately, I’m not totally won over by this novel, as wonderfully well-written as it is.

Navigating Early is the WWII-era story of Jack, w...more
Colby Sharp
Dear Heavy Medal Blog,

Good luck trying to tear this book apart. I'm sure that it will be a part of your Newbery discussions, and hope first look at all of the amazingness that this book contains.

Early is the type of character that once he enters a reader's heart he never leaves.

Your friend,

Mr. Sharp
Donalyn
I enjoyed the artistry of this book, but often questioned the intended audience for this book. It seems like the kind of book that adults adore and few kids read. While promoted in some circles as a middle grade novel, I don't know of a single ten year old in the past decade I could have given this book to that would understand it or finish it.

Don't worry about who you are going to pass it to when you are done. Read Navigating Early for yourself and enjoy Vanderpool's gift for language and inte...more
Cassi aka Snow White Haggard
Navigating Early is the story of three boys. Jackie, the protagnoist, a Kansas transpant who finds himself in a military boarding school in Maine after the sudden death of his mother. Jackie feels guilty about his mother's death, disconnected from his father and unsure about the world. He's learned some tough life lessons too young. Early, a strange but intelligent boy who lives more in his own head than reality. He too has experienced a loss. Instead of balling everything up inside like Jacky,...more
Heidi
If you read and loved Vanderpool’s heartwarming debut and Newberry Medal Winning Moon Over Manifest and are hoping to find the same depth of humanity in her sophomore novel, Navigating Early, you are in luck. In fact, my greatest criticism about Navigating Early is that it’s too thematically similar to Moon Over Manifest, so let me get that gripe out of the way before I can dive into why Navigating Early is such a wonderful read.

Both books involve children who are displaced–they have left what h...more
Caren
I really wanted to read this book since I liked the author's Newbery-winning "Moon Over Manifest" so much, however, I nearly put it aside about halfway through. It was slow going in the beginning; very well-written, but it just didn't grab me. I didn't give up on it though, and it picked up considerably in the second half. Ms. Vanderpool is a super talented writer and the book is layered with nuance. It is a Bildungsroman, with the two main characters each searching for answers in a bewildering...more
Robert
"From the author of Newbery Medal book, "Moon Over Manifest", comes the odyssey-like adventure of two boys' incredible quest on the Appalachian Trail where they deal with pirates, buried secrets, and extraordinary encounters." Delacorte Press

I just finished "Navigating Early". This is an amazing story! Like "Moon Over Manifest" I could not put this book down.

Clare Vanderpool is a masterful story teller. I found this to be an interesting, poignant, layered story with some thing for boys and girl...more
TheBookSmugglers
It’s the end of World War II and 13-year-old Jack Baker’s father is finally coming back home. Unfortunately his return is marred by the death of the sudden wife he left behind and without knowing what to do with a son he barely knows, he sends Jack to a boarding school in Maine.

There, Jack meets Early Aiden, a strange boy who often misses lessons and who can always be found listening to records in his basement room where he also spends time reading the number pi as a story and collecting news cl...more
Beth
Navigating Early has an old-school Newbery feel - not because it's historical fiction, but because it feels like a book that could have been published thirty years ago. It feels like a book I could have read growing up. I didn't know they published books like this anymore.

Navigating Early can be by-the-numbers in terms of plot, in that it's very well-plotted and all its threads tie in neatly. It feels familiar, in a way, but it still manages to be surprising. It's about loneliness and grief and...more
Benji Martin
It might have been better to let this book sink in before attempting to write a review of it. I finished it like five minutes ago, but I decided to go for it. I'll just say it. Right now, on the evening of July 27, this is my favorite book in the world. It could change, but right now, I'm in love with this book. It could have been 2000 pages, and I still would have missed Early a LOT when the book was finished.

Mrs. Vanderpool came out, a few years ago, decided she would take up writing and wrot...more
Barb Middleton
Clare Vanderpool knows how to craft a satisfying story. Early and Jack become unlikely friends when Jack is sent from Kansas to Maine. Early is a strange boy who likes to listen to certain music on days of the week, sleep in the custodian's workroom, sort jelly beans, and spew facts like Old Faithful. His made-up stories about Pi are strange as well. And not Pi from the "Life of Pi" but Pi as in the number pi, the 3.14 blah-blah-blah, or the number-that-never-ends. Jack doesn't want to listen to...more
Ann Haefele
Wow, simply amazing! I loved Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool, but this story by her is even better. World War II has just ended and Jack is sent from Kansas to a boarding school in Maine after the death of his mother. At this new school, Jack meets Early, "the strangest of boys". In today's time, Early would have been described as autistic. Numbers, especially the number Pi, make sense to Early and he has formed a story about Pi being lost. Early and Jack set out on a quest to find the mi...more
Dotty
One of the best YA books I've read in the past year! The thoughtful text has multiple layers. I think a middle school student could read this and get caught up in the adventure aspects, and connect with a few of the deeper reflections. But I think adults would really love this if they would give it a chance.

On the author's website she has a wonderful Madeleine L'Engle quote: "You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write...more
Josiah

The books of a Newbery Medal winner all somehow seem to have more shine after the award has been won, whether the author has been published for decades or is only starting out in the business. For Clare Vanderpool, striking Newbery paydirt in 2011 for Moon Over Manifest meant achieving the highest honor possible in her first effort as a published author. There were no other books of hers sitting on the shelves to suddenly be imbued with the soft, glowing halo of Newbery success, transfusing the...more
Karlan
This original story in which an adventure was mixed with a story about PI created by a math whiz orphan named Early appealed to me, but may be a hard sell for its intended audience. The legendary chapters slow the action for the tale of two boys hiking and seeking a huge bear. The writing is moving as the boys follow a path to resolve tragic past experiences.
Jamie
When a book is a slow-starter, it's not as tough as an audiobook. If you're halfway through the audiobook and you don't feel as if anything as happened, it's tough. Things definitely pick up halfway through, but will any kid stick with this? The reader is great. It's just a tough sell.
Polly
What a book! I can't think of the last time I read something that I love so much. It's sad and happy and beautiful and so classically American in every way that's a good thing. I may become irritating about this book, forcing it on complete strangers and so on.
Becky
I am in the tiny minority that does not care for this book. I couldn't ever get into it. Forty pages from the end I actually tossed the book down and exclaimed to my dog, "ugh, so boring!"

I actually did enjoy the beginning when they are in school but it lost me when they started on the journey. I couldn't connect to Early, especially how he is always supposed to be right. Like not only is he a mathematical savant, but he is also psychic or something too. There are so many elements to the story...more
H
Near the end of WW2, Jacks mother dies of an aneurysm. Jack's Naval officer father returns and takes Jack from his beloved Kansas home and drops him in a military boarding school in Maine, where Jack meets Early Auden, a strange boy who sees a story in the digits of pi. During a week long break, Early takes Jack into the woods on an adventure that weirdly echoes the story Early has been telling Jack. As they travel, both boys reveal hurts and learn truths about themselves and those they love. Wh...more
Brandy Painter
Originally posted at Random Musings of a Bibliophile.

Clare Vanderpool won the 2011 Newbery Award for her debut novel Moon Over Manifest. You can bet that many will be keeping their eyes on her new MG novel, Navigating Early. I personally enjoyed this one far more than the first, though not unequivocally.

Early is a wonderful character. In today's world he would be labeled as someone with Asperger's. In the 1940's setting of this novel he is simply labeled as strange. When Jack first meets him he...more
Richie Partington
Richie’s Picks: NAVIGATING EARLY by Clare Vanderpool, Delacorte, January 2013, 320p., ISBN: 978-0-385-74209-2

"Step out, take a look at the stars
Catch a glimpse of the way things are"
-- Bruce Cockburn, "Making Contact"

"Mom tilted her head back and looked up at the sky. 'Sounds to me like you're getting ahead of yourself, Jackie. That's like expecting a young lady to do your laundry before you gaze into her pretty eyes.'
"I looked at her confused.
"'You're jumping into the navigating part too soon....more
Ann Carpenter
This was an enjoyable book, and I was happy to pick it up every day on my lunch break. But I never felt compelled to stay up til midnight reading it, and my final assessment leaves something to be desired.

First off, I agree with Sondy at the Heavy Medal blog, that it is preposterous that a serious mathematician would be positing that pi was going to end. That's the entire point of pi, that it's an irrational number.

The string of coincidences was too much for me as well. I suppose it was supposed...more
Rebecca
It's just after WWII. Kansas boy Jack has just lost his mother, and his naval captain father is remote. He sends Jack to boarding school in Maine, where Jack meets Early Auden, a brilliant odd duck of a boy who sees stories in the ever-expanding numbers of pi, among other things. When Early sets off on a quest to find his brother, who never returned from the war, Jack reluctantly accompanies him. They encounter adventure after adventure, oddly mirroring the adventures Early sees for Pi, and rela...more
Bayla
This was a gorgeous book.Part adventure story, part eulogy, part character sketch, and part coming of age - in terms of gaining wisdom - story, all beautifully written, it is a book you can immerse yourself in and come out feeling the better for having read. Jack is hurting after his mother's death, feeling out of place and alone with his stranger-father at sea and in a new, friendless boarding school. Then he meets Early - strange, obsessed with Pi (both the number and the story he reads in it)...more
Kristin
Check this review out and others on my blog: Get Real.

Wow. A slightly off-kilter beginning that later gave way to some of the more metaphysical children's literature I've read recently. Jack Baker has been abandoned at a remote boarding school in Maine by his military officer father during the last days of World War II. Still adrift after the death of his mother, Jack has trouble and little interest in finding his footing in this school that favors natural outdoorsmen. Jack is a terrible sailor...more
Lisa
When your first book wins a major award -- say, a Newbery Medal, like Wichitan Clare Vanderpool’s debut “Moon Over Manifest” did -- the second book is laden with expectations. Will it be as good? Will it be a copy of the first? Will it capture the imagination?

Vanderpool, who has said she’d already done quite a bit of work on “Navigating Early” before the success of “Moon Over Manifest,” hits her second book just right, with a very different story and characters but a return to timeless themes.

Th...more
Tin
It is evident in several blog posts of mine, of how much I love this particular middle grade book called Bud, not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis. And if you have a favorite anything, sometimes you get this notion that nothing can ever come close to it. But of course, that isn't a hard and fast rule, it is just after all, a notion. and I found my notion breaker in Navigating Early.

Navigating early deals some heavy themes like loss, grief, death, and loneliness, in a somewhat unstable time of W...more
Jennifer
What an amazing, very unique, yet poignant story. It revolves around Jack Baker and Early Auden, two boys at a boarding school in Maine at the end of World War II. Jack is a transplant from Kansas, having moved to the school after the death of his mother, while his dad serves in the Navy. Early is classified as strange, although in today's world he would probably be diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. The boys are hooked together through a variety of circumstances and go on a quest along the App...more
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Henrico Youth Boo...: Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool 5 19 Dec 04, 2013 03:14PM  
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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.
More about Clare Vanderpool...
Moon Over Manifest

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“Sometimes it's best not to see your whole path laid out before you. Let life surprise you...There are more stars out there than just the ones with names. And they're all beautiful.” 15 likes
“Finding your way doesn't mean you always know where you're going. It's knowing how to find your way back home that's important.” 12 likes
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