5 of 5 stars
2013-book, adventure, allusion, character-development, character-motivation, characters-with-disabilities, death, friendship, gifted-character, historical-fiction, intermediate-kids-book, journey, mock-newbery-2014, quest
I read this as a NetGalley title. The somewhat mystical middle grade novel, Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool, is part Good Will Hunting, part Dead Poet's Society, part Life of Pi, and part The Alchemist. Early Auden is a character that will stay with me, captivating me as he did Jackie, the main character in the story. Jack was new to the Morton Hill Academy for Boys in Maine after moving there from Kansas with his father, Colonel John Baker, Sr. after Jack's mother died. After suffering terrible motion sickness during his travels there, he still feels out of place at the boarding school. There he meets the mysterious Early after class roll calls reveal that he's almost never in class. After a disastrous attempt at competing on the rowing team, the boys end up going on a quest on the Appalachian Trail searching for a great black bear after Jack's father fails to pick him up at the start of break and the boys find themselves alone. However, the quest turns in to a search for lost things in both boys' lives. While they are on the quest, their experiences mirror Early's stories of the "1" in the irrational number pi. Besides an unbelievable adventure, the story contains great word play, allusion, theme, and symbolism. This would be a wonderful book to share with middle grade students as a read aloud. I think it would prompt great discussion! I loved Vanderpool's Moon Over Manifest, also.
The Good Dream by Donna VanLiere
5 of 5 stars
character-traits, dogs, friendship, hyperbole, mock-caldecott-2013, picture-book, read, strong-girl-character, theme