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.
©2013 Clare Vanderpool (P)2013 Listening Library
"This multilayered, intricately plotted story has a kaleidoscopic effect, blurring the lines between reality and imagination, coincidence and fate." (Publishers Weekly)
"Newbery Medal-winning author Vanderpool's sharp, honest narrative, sparkling with the stars of the night sky, pieces together an elaborate, layered plot with precision, weaving multiple threads into a careful, tidy conclusion perfectly suited for those, like Jack and Early, who want to believe." (Booklist)
"Returning to themes she explored so affectingly in Moon Over Manifest, Newbery Medalist Vanderpool delivers another winning picaresque about memories, personal journeys, interconnectedness - and the power of stories." (Kirkus Reviews)
I like coming of age stories and this one was very good. The picaresque elements are satisfying as the two engaging main characters search for important answers. The fairly obvious allegorical use of the Pi story makes an interesting background, and I really enjoyed Mark Bramhall's reading of those elements. I think this would make an excellent vehicle for teaching the novel to the middle-school grades.
Eclectic, avid listener, favorite book is the one currently in ear.
I loved Clare's "Moon Over Manifest" which won the Newberry. This has a similar feel, a gentle, deep story of two Maine boarding school boys having lost family members and coming to terms with it. There is a weaving of past and present, fantasy and reality as the boys follow in the footsteps of a legend... I felt it was nicely done and easy to follow. You do have to suspend your disbelief... but it isn't jarring most of the time. One of the boys is high functioning autistic with OCD, seizures and unusual math abilities... watching the boys friendship grow despite their differences is part of the joy of the book.
I liked the parallels between Early's made up story and real life. I always like stories about kids in boarding school.
Great word choice and delightful characters!
"If you don't like how it is, then fix it!"
How many times have we heard that, only to begrudgingly choose to live with the situation rather than change it? When Early offers the advice to Jack we begin to understand how Early's view of the world is influenced, not by what he can't control, ---but rather by the things he can. His fearlessness is admirable and his sense of determination even more so.
This narrator has a wonderful way of making you feel like you are a part of the story --rather than someone who is just being read to.
I loved how this book transported me to a time and place from my own childhood where the words of adults didn't always make sense ---until given the opportunity to observe those words in action.
If you loved hearing the colloquialisms, metaphors, similes, and "ways" of the adults who empowered you as a child, then you will love this book. The tried and true sayings and the words of wisdom resonated on a deeper level for me. They reminded me of the people who shaped my own thinking.
I am a big fan of Clare Vanderpool's first book and loved this one equally as much. While I am no longer a classroom teacher, I do know that students love being read to. This book would be an amazing read aloud. It offers strong imagery, great descriptions and fun colloquialisms that help add color and depth to the story.
The use of Pi as a character, rather than just a math reference, offers a parallel reflection for how Early is really feeling. It helps the reader both understand what has happened and the foreboding of what is coming.
I appreciated the way the two main characters both searched for what they had lost, ---Early for his brother, and Jack for the loving memory of his mother and the pain of a disconnected father. Watching both characters grow as the story unravels helps the reader understand their respective sense of loss and how they each grapple with it.
Do yourself a favor --give this book a chance. You won't be disappointed.
Yes, I would recommend this especially to anyone who enjoyed Moon Over Manifest.
I loved the way Vanderpool intertwined the stories of dealing with loss.
I enjoy mysteries, NOT thrillers, contemporary fiction, especially about diverse cultures, and sometimes history, if it doesn't involve too many dates. I often listen to a book multiple times, discovering unnoticed details in the retelling.
Finding the line between believable and fanciful was often difficult. It isn't an easy listen.
"this genre?" In my opinion, it would be very helpful to have a few more genres which one could use to search out the type of book the listener enjoys.
Yes, to turn off my MP3 and watch some TV!
This is a fairly good story incorporating a character of unusual intelligence.
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