Why I liked it: Jackie and Early are equally interesting characters. Jackie is a typical hardheaded boy and Early would liked be labeled as having Asperger's in today's world. Despite his quirks, like only listening to Billie Holiday when it's raining, Early is a loyal friend. The plot is anything but predictable, yet everything comes together perfectly in the end. The lives of all of the characters that Jackie and Early meet along their journey are intertwined, and they appear and reappear in unexpected places. While Jackie and Early are "real boys" elements of their adventure are almost fantastical; think Bridge to Terabithia.
Classroom application: The novel is appropriate for grades 4-8 and could be used as a read aloud or in literature circles with the themes of friendship, differences, tolerances, journeys, and coming of age. Part of the novel is a plot line in which the number pi becomes a person with a story explaining its number sequence. As a writing activity, students could chose another math or science concept and create a narrative to explain its meaning or existence.
If you are interested in purchasing a copy of Navigating Early for yourself, you can find it on Amazon here.
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