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Navigating Early

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  13,303 ratings  ·  2,187 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’
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published January 8th 2013 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
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Morgan He is likely gifted. Early is also located on the autism spectrum. Children and teens with autism generally have an easier time learning things they a…moreHe is likely gifted. Early is also located on the autism spectrum. Children and teens with autism generally have an easier time learning things they are interested in, such as Early's interest with Pi. (less)

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Average rating 4.08  · 
Rating details
 ·  13,303 ratings  ·  2,187 reviews

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Jan 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 13, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: children
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
Mar 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
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 them ...more
Colby Sharp
Dec 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
As the ocean tugged at my feet, I realized that Early Auden, that strangest of boys, had saved me from being swept away. By teaching me how to build a boat, that numbers tell stories, and that when it's raining, it's always Billie Holiday.

This story is so important. It first came to me back in 2016, when I needed it more than I realized. It's a story of grief, of how people grieve differently, and how that's okay. No one is allowed to tell you how long you're allowed to grieve. We have Jack, w
Hannah Mead
Jul 26, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2019
3.5 stars. Lovely book, really beautifully written. Loved the characters. Just didn’t quite connect with it emotionally like I wish I could’ve.
Abigayle Claire
Well that was amazing. There were no coincidences, just boatloads of miracles in this story and its telling. Everything had a purpose and a place by the end. The characters were few and important and endearing. Early's strangeness and confidence combined with Jack's normality and turmoil was beautiful. Everything revolved around pi and direction, even more so than you'll find possible. It is tumultuous and somewhat intense, deep and still simple. Great for ages 12+ ...more
Cassi aka Snow White Haggard
Jan 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: galleys, read-in-2013
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
Nov 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Monique by: Louize

Complete marginalia HERE.

"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.”

What an inspiring, touching story about friendship, loss, family, connections, and love. What a wonderful story to start the new year with!
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. ...more
Oct 23, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: young-adult
To be honest, I read this 2017 and I remember one or two things and vaguely, too. It was a nice but not that interesting book.
Aug 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own-a-copy
my heart is warm.
for me, the idea of reading is something like an escape, don't get me wrong my life isn't bad, but you know human beings always want something else :/ sometimes(in my case most of the time) they want things they can't have.

if you read, you'll understand that when you're reading it's like you can't get enough, you're always hungry for more, well i like to read, but not any genre. that's a little unfortunate if you ask me.

in the case of this book, well it wasn't my genre , not my kinda book :/
Abigail Lewis
Feb 27, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love unusual books and this is definitely a new favorite. I will say I wasn’t in love (but I was enjoying it) till the end... then it all made sense❤️ definitely one I’ll enjoy re-reading!
Oct 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, tfg-f2f, 2013
From The Page Walker

A Trail, A Bear, and A Soldier

To start off, this book is about grief, getting lost, then finding the right path back to life. In other words, it is hopeful. Like I said before, this book will stitch your heart back the right way. I think this is the right kind of inspiration that my countrymen and I badly needed in these catastrophic times.

“…the team captains had yet to learn: life can’t be held in a cup, and nothing lasts forever.”

The setting is set at the end of World War
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
Jun 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
reading this book was such a shock for me, cause I can read pi as well!!
my friends have been recommending this book to me for such a long time, they said it had a character REALLY similar to me. there's no wonder that Early is actually me in autistic form. I could understand him more than any other contemporary character, well except Alaska young from looking for Alaska maybe.
Oct 15, 2020 marked it as dnf
DNF 27%

alas, i think i’m just going to dnf this one...

mainly because i... really don’t like the main character to the point where the story just... isn’t enjoyable?
it’s well written tho so -shrugs-
Jan 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
"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
From a purely craft perspective I don't think that this book is remarkable (so my rating might change when I'm more objective idk). But I found myself sobbing as I read one of the Stargazer sections, and that says a hell of a lot, doesn't it? ...more
Jess the Shelf-Declared Bibliophile
A decent, engaging novel. It reminded me of Big Fish with how you can find the truth in fantastical stories that are told. ...more
Haley Annabelle
Jan 18, 2021 rated it really liked it
I actually didn't like this book until the end. You can't really see where it's going or what the point is. But the last few chapters are really sweet and make you like the characters.

It is a really weird, unrealistic book though.
Shannon { Magical Wonder of Books }
Such an amazing book! It's in my number 2 spot for the best 20 in 2020, right after The Secret Life of Bees. ...more
Jan 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Lynai by: Louize
Shelves: 2015-books
What a heartwarming read. My throat constricted and I had tears on my eyes. Early, you are an amazing kid. Looking forward to reading Moon Over Manifest.
More thoughts soon.


It’s been a while since I’ve read a middle-grade/children’s book and I was excited when I learned that the book club’s book of the month for January has chosen a book along this genre. There is something soothing and uplifting in a children’s book and Navigating Early is no exception. It tells a strong story about
Mar 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
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
Shaeley Santiago
Jack Baker and Early Auden make an unlikely pair at their all boys boarding school in Maine. The one thing that draws them together is their loss, Jack of his mother and Early of his family. Together, they set off on a quest to find Pi and a huge mother bear wondering along the Appalachian Trail in Maine.

This story is an interesting mix of boating, math (research into pi - 3.14), and wilderness survival.

Oct 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
In short, I loved this story: it was captivating, enchanting, and downright magical. I wasn’t so much engrossed in the story as absorbed by it. It made me feel things I hardly knew could be felt, and it just may be my new favorite historical ever. :D
If you'd like to read more of my thoughts on this book, you can find the full review on Verbosity Book Reviews
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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.

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