Newbery Award winner Clare VanderPool (see Banner interview here) has written another novel that will capture the imagination of young readers. Navigating Early is aptly named; the story sets two boys in situations where they need to navigate and negotiate. Jack Baker and Early Auden meet at a time when both have experienced deep loss and shattered security. The post-World War II setting in Maine’s Appalachian Mountains is perfectly suited for a story that includes a boarding school, sports competitions, and the leftover dreams of a world war.
Finding themselves alone at school during a term break, Early leads Jack on a quest that takes them deep into the mountains. All the while, Early weaves a tale for Jack that encourages them to continue their trek. Through their harrowing adventure, Jack and Early come face to face with their pain and the depth of their friendship. It is a coming-of-age novel that weaves adventure and excitement alongside deep sadness, disappointment, and the search for family love. Ages 10 and up. (Delacorte)