Review written by Kristen Julia Anderson, Teen Librarian
Review of: Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate
I finally got around to reading Katherine Applegate’s novel Crenshaw. The book is about a young boy whose imaginary friend, Crenshaw a giant Black and White cat who enjoys bubble baths and purple jelly beans, returns unexpectedly and just when he is needed most.
Those who enjoyed My Neighbor Totoro may draw parallels between the two tales, after all Crenshaw is first described as a giant cat carrying an umbrella on a surfboard and one of the most well-known images of Totoro (a sort of cat-like creature) is of him holding a tiny umbrella in the rain waiting for the cat bus.
Also like My Neighbor Totoro, Crenshaw depicts an imaginary friend who may or not be a child’s way of coping with a highly stressful situation. Crenshaw depicts a family’s struggle with homelessness as shared through their son’s, Jackson’s, point of view. Whether or not Jackson fabricates Crenshaw to deal with his family’s situation, the loss of home and stability, or if Crenshaw appears because Jackson needs him is hinted at but never explained, but that only adds to the wonder of the book.
While I can see older readers enjoying this book as well, I especially recommend it for middle grade reader’s 4th-6th grade.