Crenshaw (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

Crenshaw is a heartwarming, tear-jerking tale that beautifully reminds readers of the importance of family, friendship, and honesty. Applegate has a remarkable way of bringing animals to life and connecting to young readers, never writing down to them. There is harsh reality in this story, but there is also resilience and redemption. And really, who can resist a giant, surfboarding, jelly bean-loving cat?

— Hannah

Jackson loves facts and wants to be a scientist. Fact: Jackson's family might have to start living out of their minivan again. Fact: Jackson's imaginary best friend, a gigantic cat named Crenshaw, has just reappeared. Fact: Both of these facts are tremendously troubling to Jackson! A story about family, about facts and imagination, about honesty and love, Crenshaw will make you smile and alternately weep. As she did with her Newbery Medal-winning The One and Only Ivan, Katherine Applegate shows she knows the proper route to a reader's heart. It's a journey both dark and light, but it's honest and hopeful and oh so beautiful. 

— Will

There are a handful of fiction books I've read that address poverty and homelessness in children. CRENSHAW is one of them. This would be a perfect grade three read-aloud or book club pick. Jackson is the type of kid who doesn't believe in the Easter Bunny or magic tricks so he certainly can't believe his imaginary friend (an enormous cat named Crenshaw) comes back when his family once again falls on hard times. As the hunger pains become more frequent and losing their apartment more imminent, Crenshaw becomes a frequent visitor - much to Jackson's frustration. This is a book about asking for help when you need it, balancing realities with faith, and being honest with kids when they're old enough to take it. Highly recommend.

— Rachel Watkins

Crenshaw is an incredibly impactful book - for kids and adults alike! It's about the power of the imagination and the importance of having an open heart and a compassionate soul. I'm doing my best to make everyone I know read this one!

— Elizabeth


In her first novel since The One and Only Ivan, winner of 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. This title has Common Core connections.

About the Author

Katherine Applegate is the author of several best-selling young adult series, including Animorphs and Roscoe Riley Rules. Home of the Brave, her first standalone novel, received the SCBWI 2008 Golden Kite Award for Best Fiction and the Bank Street 2008 Josette Frank Award. She lives with her family in Irvine, California.

Praise For…

A Publishers Weekly Bestseller

“The tone is warm and, occasionally, quirkily funny, but it doesn't sugarcoat the effects of hunger and vulnerability. This novel adds a middle-grade perspective to the literature of imaginary friends and paints a convincing and compassionate portrait of a social class—the working poor—underrepresented in children's books.” —The Horn Book, starred review

"This accessible and moving novel demonstrates how the creative resilience of a child’s mind can soften difficult situations, while exploring the intersection of imagination and truth." —Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Children will appreciate this heartbreaking novel...a compelling and unflinchingly honest treatment of a difficult topic." —School Library Journal, starred review

"...a quick read that encourages people of all ages to be honest with one another and value family and friends (real and imaginary!)" —Booklist

Product Details
ISBN: 9781250091666
ISBN-10: 1250091667
Publisher: Square Fish
Publication Date: September 26th, 2017
Pages: 272
Language: English