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Publisher's Summary

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

Critic Reviews

"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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Reads Like a Newberry

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Julie
  • San Jose, CA, United States
  • 03-22-13

Great Character Study

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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My new favorite book!

I listened to this audio book with my daughter and it has become my new favorite book! We just got done listening to the whole thing a second time!
The characterization, the richness, depth and complexity of the plot... it is excellent, and a book that should go on the shelf with other classic required reading.

Also the performance was top notch. A quality production all around.

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Great book for Tween!

My daughter and I listened to this together. It was a great story, and very captivating. There were some fun twists in the story, and I loved the way the characters' thinking came together.

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Beautiful

Utterly beautiful... so wonderfully written. Wonderful struggle of working through grief.
I wish there were more stars to give!!!!

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Great book I love it

This book should have all the awards in the world it is very descriptive and just a great story over all.

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Very enjoyable!

The narration was very well done- great choice for the voice actor. Unique storyline with an unpredictable ending.

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Excellant

Cool story with lots of detail and thought invoking events. The narrator's performance and the clarity of the recording were great! However, I could hear a few obvious edits. Overall a must listen.

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Navigating Early

I think I now have a new favorite author !! Clare Vanderpool can weave a story that will keep you captivated from first page to last! She is a master at weaving two stories together , and her characters are friends 7 would be happy to know..
Excellant narration, a masterful tale.
I want more..!!

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Powerful story

Powerful story of navigating loss and finding life. I was not prepared for the tears I would shed. So beautifully written and perfectly narrated. My favorite part is the amazing amount of closure the author gives us at the end like a warm blanket and a cup of tea. Thank you!

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  • Shaz
  • 12-02-16

amazing book

I read lots of books, most of them I really enjoy. every once in a while I find an amazing book that stays with me. Navigating Early is one of these, I laughed and cried. the author has made the characters so real dealing with so many things you come across in youth and adulthood. I love early, this is a book I shall keep to read again. thank you for this story

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  • Jess
  • 02-03-16

beautiful story

absolutely loved this story. very sweet.
drifts is and out between the novel you are reading and story within the story. love the authors note at the end.