Monday, October 19, 2015

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - CRENSHAW by Katherine Applegate

This is another story where a character is dealing with a problem – I seem to be finding a lot of them lately! I’d heard about this one from many other bloggers and was looking forward to reading it, because I loved the author's previous book, The One and Only Ivan.  I borrowed the hardcover from my local library.

From the publisher:

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?

Crenshaw was written by Katherine Applegate and published by Feiwel and Friends in 2015.

My Take:

This is such a unique story. I’ve never read a middle grade where an imaginary friend plays such a big role in the story, and I was surprised by how much I liked it. What was especially well done, I thought, was the way the author portrayed Jackson’s feelings about becoming homeless, and also the way it happened. It was a good depiction of a family’s struggle. 

I enjoyed Katherine Applegate’s writing style in The One and Only Ivan and I also enjoyed it here. The novel is well-paced, has spare writing with the occasional very meaningful sentence or image that makes you think.

Opening Line:

“I noticed several weird things about the surfboarding cat.”


“The hallway was dark, except for the bathroom light spilling onto the carpet like melted butter.”

“It’s surprising how much stuff adults don’t know.”

“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.”

Other Info:

Katherine Applegate also wrote The One and Only Ivan, which won the 2013 Newbery Medal. She lives in California with her husband and two children.

Inspired by Crenshaw, in October, Macmillan Children’s Publishing is partnering with bookstores to host a nationwide food drive.

There’s a great trailer for this book!


  1. This does sound unique. Glad you enjoyed it.

  2. I really like the cover art. And I love the imaginary friend part!

    1. It was a different kind of story that I hadn't encountered before in middle grade.

  3. I'll second that on the book cover. It makes you smile and want to open the book.

  4. I'm also a fan of the cover. The book sounds like a good one. Thanks for telling me about it.

  5. I've been hearing lots about this, but I didn't realize it was the same author as The One and Only Ivan, which I really liked. Now I'm even more inclined to go find Crenshaw! I've noticed a lot of books about imaginary friends, lately; guess it's another one of those zeitgeist themes.

    1. Oh, I hadn't seen any others. Except for the picture book BEEKLE. These things do seem to go in cycles.

    2. Oh, yes, Beekle! I think that was one of the first. Jennie mentioned The Imaginary, and there's Confessions of an Imaginary Friend. I haven't read either of them yet; maybe I'll do an imaginary friend readathon!

      I also just clued into the fact that Katherine Applegate wrote the Animorph books. I loved those!

  6. Oh! This is the next book on my TBR stack! I adored The One and Only Ivan, so I knew I would like this. Can't wait to read it. Love that quote you shared about the light spilling onto the carpet like melted butter.

    1. Thanks, Joanne. Quite a unique story. Also, I haven't come across many middle grades that deal with the issue of becoming homeless. And feeling hunger.

    2. How to Steal a Dog by Barbara O'Connor is about a homeless family living in their car. So sort of similar, except of course for the imaginary friend!

  7. This sounds really good! Another one I enjoyed about imaginary friends is The Imaginary.


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