Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Crenshaw - Katherine Applegate

Summary:  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 out-spoken, 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.  (Summary from book jacket and image from mundiekids.blogspot.com)

My Review:  Finding books that deal with difficult issues specific to a child's experience that are done well, in good taste, aren't always easy to find.  The issue of losing your home, whether an apartment or house, for a child is traumatic.  Finding a book that talks about it in a way that kids can relate to and understand, even harder.  And yet this experience is more common than many of us are even aware of.  The discussion in today's schools among teachers and librarians is to find books that children can relate to, books they can see themselves in.  While there are still strides that need to be made to address this fully, Crenshaw is a step in the right direction.

Jackson is a typical boy--maybe kinder than some, but he has the same frustrations with his sister and parents that kids his age have.  His struggle to understand why his parents make the decisions they do are relateable even to children who don't have the looming fear of becoming homeless.  The desire to be taken seriously, to be treated with more maturity is frustrating.  Even with the growing up that Jackson has done, there's still a part of him that is a child.  And as a child, he still has vulnerabilities.  that's where Crenshaw comes in.  He wasn't as large a part of the story as I expected.  He comes and goes as often as Jackson needs him and maybe because he's older it's not very much.

If you're looking for a feel-good story, despite the sad premise of losing your home and going hungry, this is the book for you (or your child).  Jackson is worth getting to know; his story is real.  It may just be the book a student  you know needs.

For the sensitive reader:  Clean as a whistle.

Rating: 3.5 stars  (I've rated it on how it felt for an adult reader--I'm guessing a student reader would rate this higher.)

Sum it up:  A sweet tale of a young boy navigating a family crisis.

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