Navigating Early by Calre Vanderpool received a Printz Honor book this year. That basically means it's a really good Young Adult book. However, I felt this book is appropriate for 5th grade and up.
Three years ago, back in 2011, Vanderpool won a Newbery for Moon Over Manifest. A Newbery medal is a big deal as well. If you go here, you will see that I was a big fan of this book.
Navigating Early is a well written novel that weaves it's way beautifully throughout the book. It's completely clean, and a perfect book for a boy or a girl as well as the young and the old.
This book earned 4.5 out of 5 stars in my book b/c of the fabulously clean story set just after World War II. Navigating Early did lose half of a star b/c although it was a good story it wasn't quite page turner a 5 star book is.
Overall, I really thought Vanderpool created a beautiful story that kids can relate to, grow from, and all around enjoy. This could be a great Literature Group or Class Read Aloud book b/c there is a lot to discuss. Jack, the main character, is an 8th grader who's mom dies unexpectedly. He was closer to his mom, since his dad was gone at war, and therefore he struggles with the memory of his mom and communicating his feelings with his dad. Very relatable for a middle school boy.
There is a lot of depth in this story, and isn't only with Jack's struggles. Early, a kid with autism struggles with his brother leaving for war, losing his parents, and life in general. However, he is brilliant with numbers and seems to understand and see things in a different way. I believe all different kinds/types of kids that can learn from this novel and from Jack and Early; adults can also learn and be inspired from this book as well.
For the math kiddos out there, there is a fun Pi reference throughout the story that teaches you a bit of the history of the number and makes you think about the incredibly long number in a whole different way.
Your reluctant reader may not gravitate to Navigating Early and may not get into it if read on his/her own, but I think he/she will enjoy it if it is read to them by a parent or teacher. Not only are the characters relatable, but they go on a grand adventure camping in the woods, dealing with bears and pirates, and solve problems/mysteries them self.
Amazon had the following book review:
"In her first book since the Newbery Medal winner, Moon Over Manifest, Clare Vanderpool delivers another contender in Navigating Early. Jack and Early, outsiders at their boarding school in Maine, form a friendship that sets them on an epic quest across land, sea, and the depths of their own hearts looking for Pi—the young seeker whose tale Early reads in the numbers following 3.14, convinced that he is lost. On their adventure they find pirates, a ferocious black bear, and finally, resolution and connection in the aftermath of a haunting loss. Vanderpool works magic in this multilayered novel of two stories —that of the boys, and that of Pi--and they dovetail beautifully throughout, culminating in an incredibly touching and gratifying ending"
Navigating Early is a well written book with a fabulous story. Go check it out!