by Katherine Applegate
Expected Publication September 22, 2015
Feiwel and Friends
Middle Grade Fiction
Review copy provided by the publisher
In her first novel since winning the Newbery Medal, Katherine Applegate delivers an unforgettable and magical story about family, friendship, and resilience.
Jackson and his family have fallen on hard times. There's no more money for rent. And not much for food, either. His parents, his little sister, and their dog may have to live in their minivan. Again.
Crenshaw is a cat. He's large, he's outspoken, and he's imaginary. He has come back into Jackson's life to help him. But is an imaginary friend enough to save this family from losing everything?
As with The One and Only Ivan, Crenshaw has become a heart print book for me. Katherine Applegate has a way of writing that just makes you want, no NEED to keep reading to find out how the story will unfold. Children (and some adults) often think that becoming homeless happens to "other people", people who don't have jobs or abuse drugs or alcohol. While reading this story it is easy to see how a hard-working family, who falls on tough times, can slowly lose their ability to pay the rent. 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 also felt for the parents who try so hard to keep things as "typical" as possible for their children. It is fascinating to watch how Jackson's imaginary friend, Crenshaw, creeps back into Jackson's life even though Jackson says he is too old for such things. Through the dialogue between Crenshaw and Jackson the readers is able to learn a bit more about how a child's imagination can protect them and help them deal with large and small challenges.
Applegate is a gifted writer who creates characters that absolutely live on in the hearts of the reader. She develops each of the characters in the book extremely well and made me care about them individually and as a family.
Crenshaw lends itself to discussions about homelessness, coping with challenges, expressing emotions and family.
Fans of The One and Only Ivan will indeed love this book. I would highly recommend it to grades 4+ as an independent read. It would also make a great read aloud for grades 3+!
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