Author: Katherine Applegate
Published September 22nd, 2015 by Feiwel & Friends
Goodreads Summary: 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?
Beloved author Katherine Applegate proves in unexpected ways that friends matter, whether real or imaginary.
My Review: It is not fair to compare this book to The One and Only Ivan. The only similarity is that they are both beautifully written and put a very special issue in the spotlight. Like Ivan made you think about animal’s imprisonment, Crenshaw makes you think about homelessness; however, it is more than that. This book made me think about so many things. First, this book shows the speed and brutality of homelessness. It can affect anyone and can come from no where. There is an extended scene from Jackson’s past that made me want to jump into the book to give him a hug and help his family in anyway I could. Second, this book looks at how much children sometimes have to deal with because of their home situation. Jackson had such anxiety and pressure on him because he felt like he had to be a grown up (specifically for his sister). Finally, the book looks at friendship–both of the imaginary and real kind–and how important they are. And specifically how the magic of both kinds are something you need to hold onto.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Crenshaw is going to be added to so many teachers’ read aloud queue. It is such a special book that can cause lots of discussion and enlightening reflection.
Discussion Questions: What are ways that Jackson and Robin try to trick their stomachs when they are hungry? Why do you think the games work?; What did you learn about homelessness by reading this book?; Why did Crenshaw return to Jackson when he did?; What type of friend is Marisol? Why is she so important to Jackson?
We Flagged: “My mom was right, of course. They were just things. Bits of plastic and wood and cardboard and steel. Bunches of atoms. I knew all too well that there were people in the world who didn’t have Monopoly games or race car beds. I had a roof over my head. I had food most of the time. I had clothes and blankets and a dog and a family. Still I felt twisted inside. Like I’d swallowed a knotted-up rope.
It wasn’t about losing my stuff. Well, okay. Maybe that was a little part of it. It wasn’t about feeling different from other kids. Well, okay. Maybe that was part of it too.
What bothered me the most, though, was that I couldn’t fix anything. I couldn’t control anything. It was like driving a bumper car without a steering wheel. I kept getting slammed, and I just had to sit there and hold tight.”
Read This If You Loved: Hold Fast by Blue Balliett, No Place by Todd Strasser, Almost Home by Joan Bauer