Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate
To be published: Sept 22, 2015
Crenshaw is a giant seven-foot-tall black and white cat that is the imaginary friend of a ten-year old boy named Jackson. He was originally invented by the boy five years earlier after his family suddenly became homeless and started living in their car, after his father was diagnosed with multiple schlerosis. Jackson can’t believe his eyes when Crenshaw shows up again just as the family is facing eviction from their apartment, as he’s not thought of him in years. The story jumps back and forth between the original homelessness and the family’s present situation. His parents try to downplay their financial struggles to Jackson and his five-year old sister, but Jackson knows better. He’s seen it all before. Crenshaw is a cat who will tell the truth no matter what and wants to help Jackson through this tough situation. Will his help be enough though? Recommended for ages 8-12, 3-1/2 stars.
This book is a great example of those times when you read an excellent award-winning book and are so excited when the author comes out with a new one, that you jump at the chance to read it. Katherine Applegate wrote the Newbery Award winning book The One and Only Ivan, which I adored and am actually planning on using in November for my tween book club. Another reason this book grabbed my attention was the imaginary friend aspect. I don’t remember having an imaginary friend as a child, but if I did, a giant black and white cat would’ve been a cool one for me to have as it reminds me of the cat we had as a pet as a child. Overall, I enjoyed the book but not as much as Ivan. As a parent, I know how hard it is to keep up appearances when you don’t have as much money as you would like, especially to provide for your kid. While I have not become homeless myself, I can understand the parent’s attempts to hide the fact from their kids and make things as normal as possible. As this reviewer put it, “It was very difficult as a parent to watch Jackson try to be so brave and not let his emotions show his parents how angry and frustrated he really was.” I did like that Crenshaw was like Jackson’s conscience, who encouraged him to do the right thing and speak his true thoughts, even if doing all that is really scary.
Disclaimer: I received the Advanced Readers Copy from MacMillan Children’s Publishing Group, via Netgalley, in exchange for my honest review.