First, before go into the review, here is a brief summary of the book so you know what’s going on…
Jack Baker is now stuck at Morton Hill Academy, a boarding school for boys, since his mother passed away and there was no one to take care of him. He was left with his father, an army general who spends most of his time away at war. They, father and son, don’t have much of a relationship because they never spent time together and Jack is used to being around his mother. At Morton Hill Academy, Jack meets one of the most peculiar boys he has ever met in his life. His name is Early Auden. The two boys befriend each other and soon they find themselves alone at school during a school vacation break. Early persuades Jack to come along, and together, the two energetic school-aged boys trek the Appalachian Trail, unraveling the story of the number pi, looking for a giant female black bear, and trying to find Early’s brother who was lost in the war. It all ties up with the present day happenings and the boys get caught up in the theory of pi in which the digits of pi never end.
I liked the way the author described the atmosphere and the thoughts and feelings of the two characters on a quest. The author, Clare Vanderpool, beautifully described the setting, making you feel like you were personally seeing the characters in real life. The feats in the story were realistically unrealistic in a really awesome way. The characters were caught up in magically unrealistic situations, and they seemed to deal with them in a realistic way appropriate for the dilemma. I also appreciated how the author tells the story from Jack’s point of view, but how she also tells the story so that it seems almost as if Jack is watching himself and Early from the sidelines. I liked Early because I thought that he wasn’t an everyday character. He had interesting idiosyncrasies like listening to Billie Holliday only when it was raining, sorting jellybeans when he was angry, and many more that defined his personality. I never got bored in the book because some exciting and intriguing adventure seemed always to be underway.
I think that Navigating Early would appeal to someone who is interested in wildlife and puzzles. You would also have to be interested in how the characters and events meet up. That means you have to be a ‘deep reader,’ being into the book to uncover comparisons that practically tell the story.
The Page Turners is a 5th Grade Review Club hosted by the BCS-BNS Library.