(Image from Barnes & Noble)
Jackson Wade is going into 5th grade. He's way too old for imaginary friends. Which is why the re-appearance of a certain giant feline alarms him so much. Jackson knows he made Crenshaw up when he was seven as a way to deal with the fear and uncertainty he felt while his family was homeless and living in their minivan. So, why has Crenshaw returned? Is it because of the strain that's so palpable in the Wade's rented apartment? Is it because of the unpaid bills, the empty kitchen cabinets, his parents' arguing, his dad's inability to hold a job because of his MS? Jackson doesn't want to lose his home again. The worry is driving him crazy—and Crenshaw's presence is not helping.
Although Jackson thinks he's old enough to hear the truth this time, he's not sure he can handle what his parents will surely tell him. Should he ignore his fears and find solace in his old pal Crenshaw? Or is he mature enough to send Crenshaw packing while he handles the situation like an adult? Or at least not like a scaredy-cat baby? Either way, it's a terrifying choice for a boy who's shouldering a burden that already feels too heavy to bear.
Like her beloved The One and Only Ivan, Katherine Applegate's newest middle grade novel, Crenshaw, is a quiet, sneak-up-on-you kind of story. It's poignant and touching, heartbreaking yet hopeful. Crenshaw adds some humor to the tale, but overall, this is a sobering book about a little kid dealing with big worries. That might put some readers off and that's too bad because Crenshaw is an impacting read that will resonate with kids—and adults—as they struggle with real, difficult problems in life. Although the novel's resolution is realistically imperfect, the story nonetheless ends on a positive, upbeat note that speaks to the resilience of the human spirit. Despite its serious subject, this is another can't-miss-it middle grade tale.
(Readalikes: Hm, I can't think of anything. Can you?)
If this were a movie, it would be rated:
for serious subject matter
To the FTC, with love: Another library