“No, the sky, it is not a contest or an exam. The only question is, can you look up? Can you take it all in? As for names of constellations, they are not the be-all and the end-all. The stars, they are not bound to one another. They are meant to be gazed upon. Admired, enjoyed. It is like the fly-fishing. Fly-fishing is not about catching the fish. It is about enjoying the water, the breeze, the fish swimming all around. If you catch one, good. If you don’t… that is even better. That mean(s) you come out and get to try all over again!”

– C. Vanderpool

Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. I’m not talking grad school thesis stuff, but ummm like where I might end up – what might happen with my career, love life, you know – the things people probably start to really really question in their mid-twenties. I’m trying not to get completely carried away with thoughts of the future, but I find it funny how they often dictate what we do during our present. Be that as it may, I’m trying to enjoy the length AND width of my life, learning to appreciate the messy stuff as it’s happening. After all, that stuff is a part of life too. I simply take at least one minute each day, close my eyes, breathe in and say, “This moment is going to be gone as soon as you open your eyes – so just listen to everything around you for a second.” It sounds really stupid, I know, but it’s helping me to calm down amidst the chaos running wildly through my head that I’m usually less-than-understanding about. The latest book I finished, Navigating Early, by Clare Vanderpool is a wonderful reminder of how beautiful the messy and unknown complexities of life can be.

The book is not one I would typically pick up, but the cover drew me in: two little boys in a boat under a sky full of stars. The story is about a young boy who lost his mother and is sent to a boarding school. There he meets Early, a very strange boy with interest in explaining pi as a story and finding meaning in absolutely everything. What unravels is an odyssey-like tale that sends the boys on a quest across the Appalachian Trail. It might not really sound like much, but it is a wonderful tribute to rain, Billie Holiday (goodness knows I love her), mothers, friendship, and other things that sound really simple, but are very complex underneath their exteriors. You will not be sorry you read this one.

Gary gives it four paws, every whisker, and a tail swish.

Honors and Awards:

A Michael L. Printz Honor Winner
An ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults Selection
An ALA-ALSC Notable Children’s Book
New York Times Editor’s Choice
A New York Times Middle Grade Bestseller
An Indie Pick
A Bankstreet Best Book of the Year
A School Library Journal Best Books 2013
A Kirkus Best Book
A Booklist Books for Youth Editors’ Choice Selection
A BookPage Best Children’s Book
A Texas Lone Star Reading List Selection


“Just the sort of book that saves lives by igniting a passion for reading.” –James Patterson