Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool
I finished this book last week, but continued to think about the story and the characters, Jack and Early, all week long. It is an adventure story, set in Maine, shortly after World War II, but it is also a growing up, coming of age story, and a story about dealing with grief. The story of Jack and Early is slowly revealed through the eyes of Jack, who narrates the story. Clare Vanderpool does such a wonderful job creating the voice of Jack and helping the reader see the world through his 13 year old eyes. Early is a quirky and unusual boy that we are drawn to and want to know more about. Early sees the world of numbers and math differently than most. For Early numbers are colors and stories. Early's fairy tale-ish story of Pi is told in between Jack's narrative. and often appears to be paralleling or predicting their own adventure. The story of Pi gives this book an almost fantasy like quality at times, and I think it mirrors that time in a 13 year old's life - sort of between childhood and growing up. (The book brought back memories of the short story I read many years ago by Stephen King, and was later made into a movie called Stand by Me, recently mentioned in a Nerdy Book Club post.)
When you read a wonderful book you often think about who you will recommend the book to, who would it be perfect for? This week I found myself daydreaming about which of my students past and present, would love this book. I love teaching second grade, but books like Navigating Early are one reason I would consider moving to an upper grade! It's meant to be read, shared and discussed. I checked my copy out from the library, but I definitely need to purchase my own copy on my next bookstore visit.
The Round House by Louise Erdrich
This is the current adult novel that I finished. I couldn't put this one down. It is set in the 80's on a reservation in North Dakota, and narrated by Joe, the 13 year old main character. The story starts with a brutal crime having been committed. The story is a little bit mystery, but mostly it's about how the family and community come to grips with everything that has happened. There is also a little bit of historical information weaved in about Native Americans.
This is an unusual reading week for me - no new children's books! But I received a new box of books in the mail yesterday, so I will have some picture book reading to do! I also just started Capture the Flag by Kate Messner.
Hmm... I just realized these 2 books featured a young teenage-boy written by a female writer. Interesting.
What have you been reading?