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Crenshaw

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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. 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.


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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. 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.

30 review for Crenshaw

  1. 5 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    I began this book blind as a bat.... making this my 2nd children’s book - [ books for ‘all’ ages], by Katherine Apple. Issues: sensitive issues explored .....through creative compassionate storytelling by a very skillful author. Once I started it - I could not put it down. Jackson - our 11 year old narrator is a little ‘too adult’... at times... but oh sooo lovable!!!!He’s aware of his parents struggles - the family problems - and wishes to help. Thank goodness Jackson has an imaginary friend tha I began this book blind as a bat.... making this my 2nd children’s book - [ books for ‘all’ ages], by Katherine Apple. Issues: sensitive issues explored .....through creative compassionate storytelling by a very skillful author. Once I started it - I could not put it down. Jackson - our 11 year old narrator is a little ‘too adult’... at times... but oh sooo lovable!!!!He’s aware of his parents struggles - the family problems - and wishes to help. Thank goodness Jackson has an imaginary friend that comes back for a re-visit ( one he made up when he was 7 years old). Who better to share purple jelly beans with than with Crenshaw? On a more serious note... this middle school - age appropriate- book is a great discussion pick with themes about family struggles - getting the bills paid - having enough food to eat - making choices- surviving poverty - understanding homelessness as a family-! - pride - ego- INVOLVING EYES & EARS of children— in a very delicate manner. A big topic is... How do parents deal with a curve ball unexpected life situation- totally unplanned that affect their children? How much should young children know about their parents problems? How much is too much? Is it wise to hide the truth to protect them? Or include the kids - and what are best ways to go about it. Things happen when living one’s life that one has no control. How does a father help support his family when disabled? How can a wife/ mother be most supportive in the most challenging situations? Great wisdom from this gem with a courageous young boy who will melt your heart There are some hard DARK DAYS ... but this is a priceless heartfelt book!! Love - connecting- bonding- call it what you want — DOES MAKE A DIFFERENCE!!! A great lesson reminder.. don’t take ourselves away and hide out with our problems alone — —-including family & friends makes life struggles much more tolerable- even sweeter!!! Thank you MISCHENKO!!!!! I love you!!!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kelli

    I read so many books to my children. I love to read to them; to watch them transformed by a story; to listen to their brilliant assessments and fascinating questions; to see them fully engaged in the wonder of a book. I have considered reviewing every book I read next year (including all children's literature & picture books) but I fear my small group of friends here might be bored to tears with me if I did. I have read some pretty amazing books for children and unfortunately, this is not one of I read so many books to my children. I love to read to them; to watch them transformed by a story; to listen to their brilliant assessments and fascinating questions; to see them fully engaged in the wonder of a book. I have considered reviewing every book I read next year (including all children's literature & picture books) but I fear my small group of friends here might be bored to tears with me if I did. I have read some pretty amazing books for children and unfortunately, this is not one of them. So, my bewilderment of glowing reviews for books that I find subpar is now extending to children's literature. This book, with a truly lovely cover, was about some terribly ugly truths: hunger, homelessness, joblessness, a parent with MS and a child assuming parental responsibilities for his very young sister, while shouldering some serious anxiety. Crenshaw, the boy's imaginary friend, came through in the end with a major lesson but otherwise Crenshaw was under-developed, largely absent from the story and pretty useless. I expected he would be full of wisdom, wit, and warm, fuzzy hugs. Not so much. I wanted so much more from Crenshaw...and from Jackson's parents, actually...and from the ending. This book tackles an important issue that demands to be discussed but I felt it needed to be a stronger story. 2.5 stars.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Melanie (TBR and Beyond)

    “I can see my imaginary friend. I can hear him. I can talk to him. He is using a towel.” Crenshaw is the type of book that should be read in school. It reads simple but packs a punch and delivers a very important message. Crenshaw is about a young boy going through a very difficult time with his family. His family has hit a real low with their fiances and they find themselves having to sell their belongings just to be able to eat most nights. They've also been reduced to sleeping in “I can see my imaginary friend. I can hear him. I can talk to him. He is using a towel.” Crenshaw is the type of book that should be read in school. It reads simple but packs a punch and delivers a very important message. Crenshaw is about a young boy going through a very difficult time with his family. His family has hit a real low with their fiances and they find themselves having to sell their belongings just to be able to eat most nights. They've also been reduced to sleeping in their cars and endlessly moving (due to failing to pay their rent). It doesn't help that his father is quite ill and can't be reliable to keep employment due to his circumstances. The young boy creates an imaginary friend, Crenshaw, to deal with everything that is going on in his life that just feels too overwhelming. The large imaginary cat is there to talk him, play with him and just plain be there for him. The boy tries to fight the idea of needing this large cat in his life because he only deals in facts, not imagination and other such nonsense. He doesn't want to be a child, he has just been through too much to allow himself to be a carefree child now. Throughout the tough times this boy goes through with his family, he realizes just how much he does need certain child-like fantasies in his life. Beautiful book and one that older children will easily be able to relate to. I especially like that it has a message but it's not preachy or pretentious. Highly recommend checking this one out. It would be great for opening up some interesting discussions with kids about poverty, family, and grief.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Hannah Greendale

    Crenshaw follows the story of Jackson, a no-nonsense boy who prefers facts over stories and wants to be an animal scientist. Oh, and he has an imaginary friend who's a giant cat. This surprising little book packs an emotional punch. Jackson's parents are in serious financial trouble; their stressful circumstances are taking a toll on Jackson. Mom and Dad remain cheerful and upbeat, putting on a happy face for their kids, but Jackson is no dummy. He knows times are bad and, whether he likes it or Crenshaw follows the story of Jackson, a no-nonsense boy who prefers facts over stories and wants to be an animal scientist. Oh, and he has an imaginary friend who's a giant cat. This surprising little book packs an emotional punch. Jackson's parents are in serious financial trouble; their stressful circumstances are taking a toll on Jackson. Mom and Dad remain cheerful and upbeat, putting on a happy face for their kids, but Jackson is no dummy. He knows times are bad and, whether he likes it or not, Crenshaw the giant cat is here to help him through the worst of it. Crenshaw and I didn't chat much during those weeks on the road. There was always someone around to interrupt us. But that was okay. I knew he was there and that was enough. Sometimes that's all you really need from a friend. The author does a skillful job of subtly weaving comments into the story that allude to how dire Jackson's situation is: What you do is throw your one piece of cereal and try to make a basket. The rule is you can't eat that piece until you score. Make sure your target's far away or you'll finish your food too fast. The trick is that you take so long to hit the target, you forget about being hungry. I ate my first jelly bean slowly and carefully. If you take tiny bites, your food lasts longer. As an added bonus, the book introduces little ones to big words like curmudgeon, penmanship, altruist, buoyancy and more. Crenshaw is a touching book about a little boy with a good heart, a giant cat who looks fantastic in a beard made of bubbles, and a family held together with hope and love.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Brooke

    First off, for a book titled Crenshaw & the cover depicting the cat, I expected him to have a much larger impact on the book than he actually did. Crenshaw is Jackson's imaginary friend (as mentioned, IF's come into lives mostly during times of stress), so Applegate had a massive opportunity to make Crenshaw a positive character aiding Jackson in a vulnerable time of need. Instead, she chooses to have Crenshaw make periodic appearances with ridiculously cliche lines, completely ruining his chara First off, for a book titled Crenshaw & the cover depicting the cat, I expected him to have a much larger impact on the book than he actually did. Crenshaw is Jackson's imaginary friend (as mentioned, IF's come into lives mostly during times of stress), so Applegate had a massive opportunity to make Crenshaw a positive character aiding Jackson in a vulnerable time of need. Instead, she chooses to have Crenshaw make periodic appearances with ridiculously cliche lines, completely ruining his character. I didn't expect this book to be sunshine & roses, but when you add in the "magic of an imaginary friend", don't disregard the impact they can make on a child. I also think the topic of homelessness was dealt with a bit rash & unrealistic. Jackson's parents on are opposite sides of asking for help (his mother wants to; his father, who has been diagnosed with MS & has difficulty with work, refuses to & sees asking for help as failing), causing tension & making Jackson believe he needs to take on adult problems. (For MG books dealing with kids with extra responsibility HOUSE ARREST dealt with this issue so much better.) It was aggravating to have parents with egos & making their kids pay the consequences. Yes, asking for help doesn't automatically make things better but it could have taken a little bit of the pressure off Jackson. The book ends with their father getting a job at a music store with an apartment attachment- how convenient. It doesn't solve their problems permanently, but again, Applegate was in a position to bring awareness to the homelessness epidemic & instead of bringing a hard-hitting story that will stay with you, it just reminds me of a fairy tale where the MC gets to wake up from a bad dream. I'll stick to FLY AWAY HOME.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Calista

    I knew nothing of this book before going in but it was supposed to be good. WOW! Love. It seems like this book will be about an imaginary friend and it is. Then Katherine Applegate super ninja's you and she gives only hints about Crenshaw the imaginary cat and she shows you the raw painful world of Jackson and the life he leads. This book is about poverty. The end does address the help Imaginary friends give. What an amazing fantastic book. It is so raw and real. I am so affected by this book. I I knew nothing of this book before going in but it was supposed to be good. WOW! Love. It seems like this book will be about an imaginary friend and it is. Then Katherine Applegate super ninja's you and she gives only hints about Crenshaw the imaginary cat and she shows you the raw painful world of Jackson and the life he leads. This book is about poverty. The end does address the help Imaginary friends give. What an amazing fantastic book. It is so raw and real. I am so affected by this book. I think this is a masterpiece. I think this could help anyone going through some real tough times. Sometimes facts are not pleasant. Fact: this book is fantastic.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Trish

    So this was a surprisingly fast read despite the very dark topic (I took the book with me this morning but didn't actually start reading it until this afternoon on the train). The book is clearly for children but I'll be damned if adults (no matter if they already have children of their own or not) can't learn a lot from it too! The story is about the boy Jackson, his parents and his little sister Robin. The parents are failed musicians turned whatnots and they are in deep financial trouble (also So this was a surprisingly fast read despite the very dark topic (I took the book with me this morning but didn't actually start reading it until this afternoon on the train). The book is clearly for children but I'll be damned if adults (no matter if they already have children of their own or not) can't learn a lot from it too! The story is about the boy Jackson, his parents and his little sister Robin. The parents are failed musicians turned whatnots and they are in deep financial trouble (also thanks to the fact that the father suffers from MS). Already they had to live in their minivan for almost a year some time ago (yes, them AND the two children). Oh, and their dog that was a puppie back then. And it's about to happen again. Just like the last time (or, to be exact, a bit more), Jackson gets help from his imaginary friend, the titlular Crenshaw. It was surprising how little Crenshaw was actually present throughout the story but that was, in part, due to the fact that one of the three parts of this book was a flashback, and the other reason probably was that Jackson's loneliness could be illustrated better this way. Anyway, the story is about homelessness, heartship and how children see the world, perceive these problems. It's also about how adults underestimate and, sadly, exclude children. The latter is often done out of a false sense of protection. It's about the importance of openness, even or especially regarding negative emotional states. And it's about great friendships (I loved Marisol). What I liked was that there was no shaming done in this book. The parents (especially the father) were ashamed, of course, but it was made clear that they didn't have to be. What drove me up the walls however, was the father's pride. If I had been his wife, I would have given him a slap across the face until he saw reason! For if you have kids, they need to come first, not your pride. But then again, adults aren't perfect either and it couldn't have been easy for him. But still ... Nevertheless, every person was portrayed in a very realistic and sympathetic way, although the story was pretty short. A powerful story and I'm glad there are authors who address such difficult topics.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    If you want to move a student up a reading ladder that pairs the heartbreak and hope of Eve Bunting's YARD SALE with the emotion and imagination of THE ADVENTURES OF BEEKLE by Dan Santat, look no further than Katherine Applegate's newest novel CRENSHAW. If you want to move a student up a reading ladder that pairs the heartbreak and hope of Eve Bunting's YARD SALE with the emotion and imagination of THE ADVENTURES OF BEEKLE by Dan Santat, look no further than Katherine Applegate's newest novel CRENSHAW.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Marcie

    The last book I read aloud to my husband before he died was The One and Only Ivan. All I could think as I read this was I wish I had someone to read it aloud to. I loved The twitter picture of a school's collection of items to donate to their local homeless shelter. There is so much to feel and talk about in this slim book. As I read I found a favorite quote and said oh, I need to remember the page. Turns out it was 222, my favorite number. "Imaginary friends are like books. We're created, we're The last book I read aloud to my husband before he died was The One and Only Ivan. All I could think as I read this was I wish I had someone to read it aloud to. I loved The twitter picture of a school's collection of items to donate to their local homeless shelter. There is so much to feel and talk about in this slim book. As I read I found a favorite quote and said oh, I need to remember the page. Turns out it was 222, my favorite number. "Imaginary friends are like books. We're created, we're enjoyed, we're dog-eared and creased, and then we're tucked away until we're needed again." People always ask me if I want to write a children's book, but I always so "No! I would much rather remain an appreciator." There will be nothing better than getting this book into the hands of teachers and children who can use it to build empathy and compassion that I believe will save the world. Bravo Feiwel and Friends!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Connor

    [3.5 Stars] This is a lot more sad than I was expecting it to be. Homelessness is rough, and this book shows some of the stress and anxiety involved in that. I think this book focused a bit too much on Jackson's past experiences rather than on what is happening with him and his family in the current timeline. I also thought we were going to spend more time with Jackson and Crenshaw together, but Crenshaw is less present than I would have hoped. I enjoyed the story, reading it in one sitting, but [3.5 Stars] This is a lot more sad than I was expecting it to be. Homelessness is rough, and this book shows some of the stress and anxiety involved in that. I think this book focused a bit too much on Jackson's past experiences rather than on what is happening with him and his family in the current timeline. I also thought we were going to spend more time with Jackson and Crenshaw together, but Crenshaw is less present than I would have hoped. I enjoyed the story, reading it in one sitting, but I wanted more.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Salem

    So a few of my friends are teachers, and they typically teach late elementary/early middle school age children. This cropped up on my Goodreads page a few times and I liked the cover, didn’t know anything about it, so I read it. I did not realise until I started it that it was probably meant for 8 to 10 year olds, since the main character is about to enter 5th grade. But, you know what? I’m overjoyed that I read it. It was wholesome and pure and I’m not even a little bit sorry to have spent that So a few of my friends are teachers, and they typically teach late elementary/early middle school age children. This cropped up on my Goodreads page a few times and I liked the cover, didn’t know anything about it, so I read it. I did not realise until I started it that it was probably meant for 8 to 10 year olds, since the main character is about to enter 5th grade. But, you know what? I’m overjoyed that I read it. It was wholesome and pure and I’m not even a little bit sorry to have spent that 40 minutes on it. It was more enjoyable than anything Ayn Rand has ever written and, as a bonus, all the chapters had a really neat illustration with them. But! I digress - the book. It deals with some heavy stuff. Homelessness, a family living in their car, a friendless kid that feels like he has to carry the burden of knowing what’s coming when his parents announce a yard sale and keep his little sister safe. However, and maybe this is the crux of why I liked it so much, it’s dealt with in a really intelligent and accessible way. There’s a safety blanket built in by the titular character - Crenshaw - and the mystery of where he comes from and why he comes back propels the book forward even as every few chapters we get a flashback to Jackson’s time spent living in his parents minivan. There are some really heartbreaking scenes in the book, but its handled delicately and with such an overarching air of - perhaps whimsy is too strong, but if there’s a word for ‘we got this’? that is needed here - that I trust Applegate to lead me into the light. I think kids would really like this, and high fives to my teacher friends for unknowingly sending it my way. 10/10.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Abby Johnson

    Wow... just wow.... With masterful characterization, Katherine Applegate has painted a portrait of a family struggling to make ends meet and the effects that has on the children in the family. Jackson remembers what it was like when his family had to live in their van, and he's afraid that those times are coming back. Now that he's entering fifth grade, he's old enough to want to do something about it, but how can he help when his parents want to keep him and his little sister in the dark? More Wow... just wow.... With masterful characterization, Katherine Applegate has painted a portrait of a family struggling to make ends meet and the effects that has on the children in the family. Jackson remembers what it was like when his family had to live in their van, and he's afraid that those times are coming back. Now that he's entering fifth grade, he's old enough to want to do something about it, but how can he help when his parents want to keep him and his little sister in the dark? More about this one is coming on the blog. I loved it. Highly recommended.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Victoria Scott

    Short, beautiful read. It's MGs like this that make me want to write them. Short, beautiful read. It's MGs like this that make me want to write them.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Skip

    A sweet, but somewhat meandering story about a boy named Jackson and his family struggling in difficult economic and health circumstances. His father has MS and had to quit his construction job, leaving the parents with a series of part-time jobs. The book explores the subjects of poverty and homelessness and their effect on children, with Jackson discussing his problems with his imaginary friend, a large cat named Crenshaw. Jackson's relationship with Marisol is one of the highlights in the sto A sweet, but somewhat meandering story about a boy named Jackson and his family struggling in difficult economic and health circumstances. His father has MS and had to quit his construction job, leaving the parents with a series of part-time jobs. The book explores the subjects of poverty and homelessness and their effect on children, with Jackson discussing his problems with his imaginary friend, a large cat named Crenshaw. Jackson's relationship with Marisol is one of the highlights in the story.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte

    Why do you have to understand everything? I like not knowing everything. It makes things more interesting. So What’s It About? (from Goodreads) “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 sav Why do you have to understand everything? I like not knowing everything. It makes things more interesting. So What’s It About? (from Goodreads) “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?” What I Thought Crenshaw does a beautifully-nuanced job of addressing the issues of poverty and homelessness in a way that I would imagine being very approachable and even enjoyable for its young readers. For such a short little book it covers quite a range of topics and does so in a really effective way. Jackson’s main struggle is with his sense of powerlessness – the desperation of being a kid and knowing that something is wrong but not being sure what you can do about it, while in the meantime your parents are pretending that everything is okay: 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 on tight. Bam. Were we going to have enough to eat tomorrow? Bam. Were we going to be able to pay the rent? Bam. Would I go to the same school in the fall? Bam. Would it happen again? The shame that he feels is also really well-written, and it’s clear that the silence and shame that he feels about his family’s lack of money and their time living in a van are protective in a way, because the act of remaining silent about it all makes him feel like it is less likely to happen again. It’s also very subtly apparent that Jackson feels a lot of resentment towards his parents – and how could you not? They’re the ones who are supposed to take care of everything, and to him it seems as though they are simply pretending everything is okay when it’s all falling apart around them. I was quiet for a while. “Do kids always have to love their mom and dad?” I asked. Crenshaw also touches on shoplifting, and the way that Jackson’s guilt over breaking the rules does not override the sense of need and the desire to help his family in some way: Even though I felt lousy, I had fixed a problem. I haven’t talked about the magic at all, but there is magic in this book, too, in the form of Jackson’s delightful imaginary friend Crenshaw. Crenshaw tends to pop up just when Jackson needs him the most, and Jackson initially greets his presence with resentment and disbelief – he’s already dealing with enough! He doesn’t need to wrangle a giant talking cat too! But gradually he sees the importance of Crenshaw’s love and friendship, and realizes that a little of magic might not be the worst thing in the world. He has been clinging to facts because facts make him feel safe, but when everything is so uncertain maybe what he really needs is to accept that not everything in life is comprehensible. Fantasy, magic, humor and imagination can help us cope just as much as cold hard facts can. The F Word There isn’t a whole lot to report on this front. I think there’s some interesting commentary on the dad’s role in the family’s struggle and how he is initially unwilling to admit that the family may need help and resources due to his pride as the person who is supposed to provide for the family. And kudos to Applegate for writing a children’s book that is so deliberate and approachable when addressing class struggles and poverty.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Suad Shamma

    I really loved this book, a lot more than I thought I would. Even though it is considered a children's middle grade book, but the themes it discusses are serious enough to allow even adults, and especially parents, to relate to it and to become invested with the characters. This book discusses imaginary friends and the role they play in a child's life. Especially a child that needs to have an imaginary friend in his or her life because of what their reality is lacking. In Jackson's case, his ima I really loved this book, a lot more than I thought I would. Even though it is considered a children's middle grade book, but the themes it discusses are serious enough to allow even adults, and especially parents, to relate to it and to become invested with the characters. This book discusses imaginary friends and the role they play in a child's life. Especially a child that needs to have an imaginary friend in his or her life because of what their reality is lacking. In Jackson's case, his imaginary friend is Crenshaw, a big oversized cat with attitude. Jackson first saw Crenshaw when he was about five years old and his parents moved him and his younger sister out of their house and into their car. They were forced to live in their car for a period of time due to their financial situation. Crenshaw, at the time, was the only friend Jackson had, who was able to keep him grounded and gave him the distraction needed at such a difficult time. A situation that a five year old cannot possibly process or understand. But Jackson was always much wiser and older than his age. At nine, Jackson is a serious, responsible, and very intelligent boy. He wants to be a scientist, he believes in facts, and he loves animals. He can recite animal facts like no other boy his age. However, Jackson can tell that his parents seem to be hiding something from him and his sister, and he could tell that their situation is dwindling again and they may need to move out of their current apartment. It worries him that he may have to live in their van again. It worries him that he may have to leave school and away from his best friend Marisol. His parents are holding a garage sale to sell as much stuff as possible to make the rent. Things are definitely bad, but they won't say so and that, more than anything else, frustrates Jackson. That's not the least of it though. On top of all that, Jackson thinks he's losing his mind. Crenshaw is back. His old imaginary friend. No matter what he does, the cat won't go away. Crenshaw tells him he is here to stay until Jackson tells him to go away, but that's not as easy as it sounds. Because Jackson needs to mean it. The only reason Crenshaw is back is because Jackson needs him, and whether he'll admit it or not, one way or another, he summoned him. Crenshaw doesn't make the rules...Jackson does. This is a wonderful story of a young boy who is trying to be strong for his family. A boy way beyond his years, with a lot more responsibility than he should have, and a lot weighing on his shoulders. I loved the scenes where Jackson's sister would come to him and have him read her a story or put her to sleep. Those scenes of a nine year old taking care of his sister tugged at my heartstrings as a parent. I loved how the parents always tried to remain positive in front of their children, and never let it get in between them. However, it was also good to see this entire story from a child's perspective and try to understand that sometimes being straightforward and honest is good for a child. You can't always put on a good face, because children can be a lot more perceptive than you'd imagine. Dealing with an important social issue as homelessness is a brave thing for Katherine Applegate to tackle in this story that is for the most part directed at children. However, she does a great job creating a story around this issue that children can understand and perhaps relate to. Most of all, I love that the ending isn't ultimately happy and things don't wrap up nicely with a red bow, but one where happiness could be achieved and all the family is left with is a lot of hope for their future.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Etienne

    Even better then expected! What a beautiful and inspiring story. A book about a family having a hard-time and how a young boy try to deal with it using his imaginary friend. Yeah the ending was a bit cheesy and everything seem to work and fit into place a bit too easily but it's a children book so for me that wasn't a problem. I like the hard subject and the importance of talking about it, so children would understand some of our modern reality and will also see that they're probably more lucky Even better then expected! What a beautiful and inspiring story. A book about a family having a hard-time and how a young boy try to deal with it using his imaginary friend. Yeah the ending was a bit cheesy and everything seem to work and fit into place a bit too easily but it's a children book so for me that wasn't a problem. I like the hard subject and the importance of talking about it, so children would understand some of our modern reality and will also see that they're probably more lucky then a lot of others children. I like the writing, the imagination behind it all, the fantastical elements of it. One of the best children novel I read in a long time! Highly recommend!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    I chose this as an audio book to listen to in the car with my kids on the way to school each morning. Their interest came and went, and I finally ended up finishing the book on my own. I thought the story and message was pretty good, but it was based on bleak material - the struggle of a family against homelessness and ensuring they had enough to eat. Needless to say, the majority of the story was depressing, so perhaps not the best option for an audio book during these dark and dreary rainy morn I chose this as an audio book to listen to in the car with my kids on the way to school each morning. Their interest came and went, and I finally ended up finishing the book on my own. I thought the story and message was pretty good, but it was based on bleak material - the struggle of a family against homelessness and ensuring they had enough to eat. Needless to say, the majority of the story was depressing, so perhaps not the best option for an audio book during these dark and dreary rainy mornings of late November.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Franki Sibberson

    Love:-) Possible 3rd grade read aloud for later in the year.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Melanie Brinkman

    The world makes far too little sense if you do not believe in nonsense. The last thing Jackson wants is to live in the minivan again. But his family can't afford to pay rent, get food, or much else. When the overwhelming feeling returns, is there anywhere he can go for some relief? Enter Crenshaw, Jackson's former imaginary best friend. He has no idea why the big cat has reappeared; its not as bad as he anticipated. What if the truth lies in the fiction? Imagination is invaluable in the inbetween t The world makes far too little sense if you do not believe in nonsense. The last thing Jackson wants is to live in the minivan again. But his family can't afford to pay rent, get food, or much else. When the overwhelming feeling returns, is there anywhere he can go for some relief? Enter Crenshaw, Jackson's former imaginary best friend. He has no idea why the big cat has reappeared; its not as bad as he anticipated. What if the truth lies in the fiction? Imagination is invaluable in the inbetween times. It's only logical to believe in the illogical. Trigger warnings for poverty, grief, disordered eating, illness of a parent, and anxiety. Intelligent, anxious Jackson was more afraid of his reality then he let himself believe. Being far too perceptive was almost the fact lovers downfall, heaping far too much responsibility on his serious shoulders. My heart both cried for and respected the young boy. Families fall on hard times, but true fortune is having a loving family. The way stress wove itself through this family unit was direct yet suddenly nuanced. It was interesting to examine the roles they played compared to those typically assigned to a family like theirs. I was blown away with how aware yet completely oblivious Jackson's close nit family was of each other and their feelings. Weird doesn't mean unwise. While Jackson was understandably reluctant at the re-emergence of the sarcastically silly Crenshaw, I fell in love with the big purple jelly bean loving cat.Truly an exquisitely vague yet well crafted character, he played a uniquely important role. I loved getting to explore all the ways he figured into Jackson's past, present, and future. Imaginarily fantastic, Crenshaw showed how vital a friend fiction is. Fact is, the world needs fiction. Be it books, TV shows, anthroeomorphic imagination or other, fiction helps us face fact. Taut with raw emotions, Katherine Applegate's prose softly stabs you with not only the under talked about realities of many family's financial situations, but the starkness of it all through a very aware child's eyes. Imaginary does not mean unnecessary. I thought the book did a brilliant job of showcasing how deeply children internalize stress to avoid becoming "yet another burden" upon their family. Bravely tackling poverty, homelessness, hunger, and honesty, Crenshaw evoked endless amounts of empathy. Though a bit rushed, the melancholy sweet ending both broke and warmed my soul. Crenshaw was nothing short of a masterpiece. I don't want to imagine a world in which Crenshaw doesn't exist.

  21. 5 out of 5

    The Captain

    Ahoy there me mateys! This was an audiobook that I picked up for two reasons: 1) the author previously won the Newbery Medal and 2) it has a giant cat on the cover. The cat was supposed to be both invisible and magic. I had assumed that the story would be lighthearted and that the cat and little boy would get into all kinds of adventures. This book had a way more serious tone. It was about a struggling boy named Jackson. His mom lost her job and his dad has MS. They are poor and about to lose the Ahoy there me mateys! This was an audiobook that I picked up for two reasons: 1) the author previously won the Newbery Medal and 2) it has a giant cat on the cover. The cat was supposed to be both invisible and magic. I had assumed that the story would be lighthearted and that the cat and little boy would get into all kinds of adventures. This book had a way more serious tone. It was about a struggling boy named Jackson. His mom lost her job and his dad has MS. They are poor and about to lose their home . . . again. His parents continue to treat every situation with an upbeat attitude. Jackson knows the problem is serious and doesn't know how to make his parents tell him the truth about their circumstances. Like how Harvey the rabbit is a sign of alcoholism, Crenshaw is a sign of troubled times. One of the more interesting points of this book is that Crenshaw doesn't magically fix things. He is more of a sounding board and a solid presence in Jackson's life. A friend. Only, in the beginning, Jackson thinks he is going insane because why should he be seeing a giant talking cat that he thought was an imaginary friend he left back in kindergarten. I enjoyed the fact that Jackson is going through self-discovery and that the cat doesn't magically fix the parents' situation. The cat is a background personality for the most part and much of his involvement is through flashbacks. I loved that Jackson had loving parents who did want the best for their children. I loved silly Crenshaw. This was a wonderful story, dealing with the effects of poverty, friendship, family, and resilience. I will certainly be reading more of Katherine Applegate's work. Side note: The narrator, Kirby Heyborne, did a wonderful job!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Karina

    My 4 star rating is on how the subject matter made me feel. It's hard for me to throw out 5's unless the plot was amazing. A boy and his family go into near homelessness for the second time, ready to live in their minivan. Crenshaw, the imaginary cat reappears when Jackson needs him the most. The father has MS and is too proud to ask for help. The mother has 3 part time jobs and still cannot provide enough to pay the rent. It is heartbreaking to know 1 in 5 children are near starvation in this c My 4 star rating is on how the subject matter made me feel. It's hard for me to throw out 5's unless the plot was amazing. A boy and his family go into near homelessness for the second time, ready to live in their minivan. Crenshaw, the imaginary cat reappears when Jackson needs him the most. The father has MS and is too proud to ask for help. The mother has 3 part time jobs and still cannot provide enough to pay the rent. It is heartbreaking to know 1 in 5 children are near starvation in this country. The richest country in the world and it is still an issue as to whether having a job can feed your family. Sorry, I'm rambling. The book itself is a fast, easy read and it is good for kids to read about tough subject matter and hope that they will have empathy for others.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Brooke

    Two years ago I discovered a little gem called, "The One and Only Ivan" and that book literally made me see literature and storytelling in a different way. Applegate's newest character, Crenshaw is a large black and white cat; he's sarcastic, wise, and loyal. To 10 year old Jackson he is a friend and forces Jackson to stay innocent and hold onto the magic in life, because Crenshaw is imaginary. I read this book in one sitting. The message is beautiful. Applegate has done it again, writing childr Two years ago I discovered a little gem called, "The One and Only Ivan" and that book literally made me see literature and storytelling in a different way. Applegate's newest character, Crenshaw is a large black and white cat; he's sarcastic, wise, and loyal. To 10 year old Jackson he is a friend and forces Jackson to stay innocent and hold onto the magic in life, because Crenshaw is imaginary. I read this book in one sitting. The message is beautiful. Applegate has done it again, writing children's literature that is more powerful than some adult fiction could ever reach.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Carol (Reading Ladies)

    Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate is a beautifully and creatively written middle grade story exploring poverty, homelessness, and imaginary friends. Because the content of this book builds compassion and the topic of homelessness might worry some readers, I'm recommending it as an excellent “read together” book. As a teacher at a Title 1 school where the student population often experienced poverty and homelessness, I made many personal connections with this story which enriched my reading experien Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate is a beautifully and creatively written middle grade story exploring poverty, homelessness, and imaginary friends. Because the content of this book builds compassion and the topic of homelessness might worry some readers, I'm recommending it as an excellent “read together” book. As a teacher at a Title 1 school where the student population often experienced poverty and homelessness, I made many personal connections with this story which enriched my reading experience. I believe this is a thoughtful story for students who are not in this situation to build empathy, but I wonder how children who are experiencing poverty and homelessness would react to the story without having someone with which to process. In the story, the main character, Jackson, has an imaginary friend (Crenshaw, as seen on the cover) and I appreciate the author's subtle message that the imaginary friend appears to help Jackson deal with his stress. In fact, when Jackson questions why Crenshaw is larger than he was when Jackson was little, Crenshaw explains that Jackson needs a bigger imaginary friend now that his problems are different. I thought a great deal while reading the story about how children process stress. It is interesting that Jackson appears fine to his parents (mom thanks him for being positive and helpful), yet he experiences stress because of not knowing what is going to happen. In addition, he also feels tremendous responsibility for his sister (even giving up his plan to run away in order to take care of her). Quote: "What bothered me most, though, is 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 on tight. Bam! Were we going to have enough to eat tomorrow? Bam! Were we going to have enough to pay the rent? Bam! Would I go to the same school in the fall? Bam!” This thought impacted me while reading: Children can adapt easily because they desire/need stability, togetherness, love, predictability, family....but adults sometimes don't realize the stress the child is feeling because they "appear" to be adapting. I encourage you to pick up Crenshaw, an interesting, creative, thought provoking, and worthwhile read. Can be read in one sitting. My Rating: 4 Stars For more reviews visit my blog: Readingladies.com

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ms. Yingling

    E ARC from Netgalley.com Jackson and Robin's parents are struggling to make ends meet. They are both artistic, and have tried to take whatever jobs they can to earn money, but Jackson's father has multiple sclerosis, and this makes matters even more difficult. When the family is behind on rent and low on food, they decide to hold a yard sale to try to make up the difference. About this time, Jackson is revisited by Crenshaw, a giant yet invisible talking cat who last appeared when he was younger E ARC from Netgalley.com Jackson and Robin's parents are struggling to make ends meet. They are both artistic, and have tried to take whatever jobs they can to earn money, but Jackson's father has multiple sclerosis, and this makes matters even more difficult. When the family is behind on rent and low on food, they decide to hold a yard sale to try to make up the difference. About this time, Jackson is revisited by Crenshaw, a giant yet invisible talking cat who last appeared when he was younger and the family spent an extended time living in their van. Jackson is confused as to why Crenshaw reappears, but takes some small comfort in him; if the family loses their apartment, he'll have to change schools and move away from his friend Marisol, with whom he runs a dog walking business. Things do get worse, but eventually, Jackson's parents ask for and receive enough help to keep the family fed and housed for the immediate future. Strengths: This is an important and timely story, and the details of Jackson's family difficulties are very well done. The parents' situation is well explained, and they do try to take care of matters themselves, but just can't get a break. These are important details for students who may not understand how a family could become homeless. Jackson's irritation with his parents and his feelings of impotence are important for students who may have struggled with similar circumstances. This is probably one of the better books I have read about a family facing homelessness. Weaknesses: The invisible talking cat friend did not work for me. I had had my doubts about Ivan as well, and Applegate certainly pulled that off successfully, but in this case, I think that Crenshaw detracted from the seriousness of the book in an odd way, and his inclusion will make it less likely that students who might be interested in a realistic story on this topic will pick the book up. What I really think: Yes, this is brilliant and lovely. No contest there. However, if this is to be successful in my particular library, it will require a LOT of hand selling. That giant cat on the cover is going to turn a lot of readers away, and the readers who want to read about imaginary cat friends will probably not want such a sad story. I know a lot of people really like this, but it might be one of those "teacher" books rather than a "student" one.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Julia Sapphire

    3.25 stars “Imaginary friends are like books. We're created, we're enjoyed, we're dog-eared and creased, and then we're tucked away until we're needed again.” This book is such a quick and enjoyable read! This book had themes of imaginary friends, friendship, family, financial issues, magic and sibling relationships. I enjoyed some of the analogues in this book, I felt Applegate did a good job of comparing two things to make one seem more understandable to younger readers. "I felt like I al 3.25 stars “Imaginary friends are like books. We're created, we're enjoyed, we're dog-eared and creased, and then we're tucked away until we're needed again.” This book is such a quick and enjoyable read! This book had themes of imaginary friends, friendship, family, financial issues, magic and sibling relationships. I enjoyed some of the analogues in this book, I felt Applegate did a good job of comparing two things to make one seem more understandable to younger readers. "I felt like I always had to be on alert for the next raccoon invasion" I loved this part of the novel, were the main character Jackson realizes he is relied on and needed by his family. On one hand this could feel heartwarming but on the other intimidating especially to a child. This part of the book had me making connections to my personal life and brought up great discussions of roles in a family and family relationships. Overall I did enjoy this book. I love this authors writing style and the messages she manages to weave into the story. I did enjoy The One and Only Ivan More more then this novel. I also felt the end wasn't as impactful and hard hitting as it could have been for me.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Angus Killick

    Wow, I read this in one fell swoop and loved every single word! This is such a taught and beautifully crafted piece of writing. A boy and his imaginary friend, Crenshaw, weather the storms of a difficult life at home when his family fall on hard times. Jackson, tries to resist his fantastical friend by denying his 'need' for him, but eventually the relationship finds a place of acceptance and life is easier to bear. Brilliantly written in short economic chapters, with such warmth and gentle humo Wow, I read this in one fell swoop and loved every single word! This is such a taught and beautifully crafted piece of writing. A boy and his imaginary friend, Crenshaw, weather the storms of a difficult life at home when his family fall on hard times. Jackson, tries to resist his fantastical friend by denying his 'need' for him, but eventually the relationship finds a place of acceptance and life is easier to bear. Brilliantly written in short economic chapters, with such warmth and gentle humor. I predict this will become an instant classic - it is such a tour-de-force after the wonderful Newbery-winning One and Only Ivan, also penned by Applegate. A real treat is in store when Crenshaw is released into the world. This rises high on my list of all-time favorite middle-grade books instantly!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Marisa Bisaccia [book whisperer]

    If it wasn't for the reading challenge I am in I, would of never read this book. However, it's a decent book about being honest and living life. If you want a quick and fun book I would say give it a shot. If it wasn't for the reading challenge I am in I, would of never read this book. However, it's a decent book about being honest and living life. If you want a quick and fun book I would say give it a shot.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mary Ann

    I find that my students particularly respond to books that touch their hearts, that talk honestly about how kids can survive through difficult times, about how we can keep hold of hope even though everything seems like it's about to crumble around us. I can't wait to share Crenshaw, Katherine Applegate's newest novel, with my students and friends. Jackson knows that his parents are worried about having enough money for rent. And he's noticed that lately, the cupboards seem pretty bare. But he's a I find that my students particularly respond to books that touch their hearts, that talk honestly about how kids can survive through difficult times, about how we can keep hold of hope even though everything seems like it's about to crumble around us. I can't wait to share Crenshaw, Katherine Applegate's newest novel, with my students and friends. Jackson knows that his parents are worried about having enough money for rent. And he's noticed that lately, the cupboards seem pretty bare. But he's a no-nonsense kind of guy, entering 5th grade--the kind of kid who likes to learn all about the facts, not get lost in make believe stories. That's why he's seriously perplexed when he sees a giant cat surfboarding at the beach. "Maybe I'd gotten sunstroke at the beach... Maybe I was asleep, stuck in the middle of a long, weird, totally annoying dream... Maybe I was just hungry. Hunger can make you feel pretty weird. Even pretty crazy." Applegate draws readers into Jackson's story, blending humor with small moments that place you right in Jackson's world. For example, instead of just telling us that Jackson is hungry, she shows us how he plays a game with his little sister called Cerealball: "a good trick for when you're hungry and there's nothing much to eat." Jackson is resilient and smart -- and that's why he's so perplexed that this giant imaginary cat has come to visit him again. But it's also why we, as readers, can relate so easily to him. He wants his parents to realize that they can tell him what's going on, but he's also shaken by the uncertainty. Will they have to move? Will they have to live in their van again? Will he have to change schools? Applegate helps kids see the impact of worrying, something that kids can relate to all too well. She shows them how a friend can help, how talking with your family can help. But she does more than this. Applegate creates a voice for kids struggling with hunger and homelessness. She says, in effect, I see you, I know you, I care about you. And she helps all of us say the same thing. When students perform in front of their class at school, we talk about how the audience holds their heart in their hands. I feel the same way about authors who write the books that we read as kids. They hold our hearts in their hands as they take us on a journey.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Faseeh Ilahi

    So this morning I finished "Crenshaw" by Katherine Applegate. Rating: 4.5/5 🌟 The story basically follows Jackson, who is just a small boys. But unlike most of the small boys, he believes in fact. Jackson family has been going through some tough time lately. Due to which they might have to leave there home and live in a minivan again. Then Crenshaw appear who is an imaginary friend of Jackson. And he tells him that he has came to help Jackson. It has some excellent friendship vibes. It has some real So this morning I finished "Crenshaw" by Katherine Applegate. Rating: 4.5/5 🌟 The story basically follows Jackson, who is just a small boys. But unlike most of the small boys, he believes in fact. Jackson family has been going through some tough time lately. Due to which they might have to leave there home and live in a minivan again. Then Crenshaw appear who is an imaginary friend of Jackson. And he tells him that he has came to help Jackson. It has some excellent friendship vibes. It has some really great family bonding in it too. Also it tackles with some problems like homelessness, etc. This was an excellent read for me. It tackles some tough topics in a way which is relatable to all ages. I think everyone should read it at least once....

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