Navigating Early by Newberry Winner Clare Vanderpool is definitely worthy of it’s Printz award winning status.
Set during WWII, the book tells the story of Jack a small town Kansas boy whose father sends him to attend a boarding school in Maine after his mother’s death. Jack meets and befriends Early Auden, a strange boy in his class who rarely attends his classes and lives in the basement instead of the dorms. Early is incredibly smart, able to calculate Pi in his head, and helps Jack learn to row for the upcoming regatta. Early also believes that Pi tells a story, and that that story can help the boys find Early’s “lost” brother. During a break in school, the two boys set off on an adventure filled with danger and suspense, and learn a few things along the way.
Early is an autistic savant, but since it’s the ’40s, he is undiagnosed. Instead he’s considered and odd and strange boy by his peers. This is a great story of friendship, learning to cope with loss, and learning to understand and accept those that are different from us. I loved the entire story, and was able to read it pretty quickly since it is for younger teens. However, I feel the end result of their journey was a bit of an impossibility, albeit and amazing one. I give it Four and a Half lightsabers. One of the best books I’ve read in a while and is great for all ages, including adults.