This review can also be found in The Canon City Daily Record.
When was the last time you grabbed a comfy blanket, a cup of milk and some cookies, and a good book? When was the last time you hibernated in a homemade fort of couch cushions and carpet runners, reading with a flashlight until the battery dimmed?
It's time to return to those days - even just for one more book: "Crenshaw", by Katherine Applegate.
A prolific children’s author, Ms. Applegate has written many of the books in the Animorphs series. Recently moving in a different direction, “The One and Only Ivan”, the true tale of a silver-back gorilla housed in a shopping mall, won the 2013 Newberry Medal. It reached the hearts of children and adults alike.
This year Katherine Applegate has done it again. “Crenshaw” is already topping the bestseller lists for readers in fourth to sixth grade.
It is summer, and Jackson is in limbo between fourth and fifth grade – he’s also scared and confused about his parents’ financial situation. Money is tight. Dad has a medical disability and Mom is working multiple jobs. Both are trying to keep an upbeat attitude and maintain stability while experiencing the marital tension that goes along with such stresses. And this isn’t the first time things have been rough. Once, Jackson and his parents, his little sister and dog, had to live in the family van for a while.
Jackson is a pretty smart kid – and he likes facts. He wants to know and understand what is happening beyond what his parents feel he is ready for. He tells us, “Sometimes I just wanted to be treated like a grown-up. I wanted to hear the truth, even if it wasn’t a happy truth. I understood things. I knew way more than they thought I did.”
And that’s when Crenshaw makes his appearances – when life feels a bit heavier than Jackson can seem to bear. Who’s Crenshaw? Well, he’s a large cat with an affinity for bubbles, t-shirts, and purple jellybeans. He’s imaginary, of course - “Harvey” for a new generation.
This tale is candid, conversational and humorous, affording younger readers the opportunity to feel for - and with - Jackson, and providing adults with a view straight into a child’s heart. It is true to the experiences of childhood and an insightful recollection of what it was like – is like – to be a kid. The strengths and vulnerabilities of youth are explored and granted safety.
This is a book to read aloud with a child. But it is also a book to read alone and appreciate 244 short pages of pure delight.
Sometimes we all need examine the world from the height of four feet nothing.
Photo credit: http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51ffwVD0FeL._SX339_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg