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Navigating Early (Hardcover) by Clare Vanderpool
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Conjoining the specter of loss with friendship and imagination, this compelling middle grade novel explores the lives of two very different boys in similar situations. It's the end of World War II, and 13-year-old Jack Baker has been sent from his Kansas home to boarding school in Maine after the death of his mother. Grieving and lonely, Jack befriends oddball Early Auden, a boy obsessed with both the number pi and discovering that his brother, Fisher, didn't actually die in the war. Early takes Jack on an outrageous, fascinating quest along the Appalachian Trail, where they meet a host of eccentrics that seem to have sprung directly from Early's story of pi. Clare Vanderpool is the author of MOON OVER MANIFEST, the 2011 Newbery Award winner.