Reviews

Imaginary Friends: Crenshaw

Applegate, Katherine. Crenshaw. Feiwel and Friends, 2015. 245 pages. Hardcover $14.49, ISBN 978-1-25004-323-8; PLB $18.51, ISBN 978-1-51810-864-8

 

TL;DR: Do I recommend this? YES!

 

Genre: Fantasy

 

Part of a series? No.

 

Plot Summary:

Jackson and his family do what they can to make ends meet. They were homeless once, living in a van when they lost their house. Jackson is afraid that they are approaching another homeless period. To compound his fears, a gigantic cat that eats grape jellybeans, wears snazzy tee-shirts, and takes bubble baths keeps appearing … but only he can see it. Crenshaw is this cat’s name, and the last time he saw Crenshaw was when he was homeless (and a little kid!). Jackson is all about the facts — science, chemistry, things that you can prove. So why does Crenshaw keep appearing? Is Jackson crazy, or does he just need to accept the magic?

 

Critical Evaluation/Reader’s Comments:

Once again, Applegate takes a difficult subject and infuses it with magic and care. Jackson’s homelessness is discussed in a frank tone; Applegate does not use those moments to condescend to her readers. Jackson also reflects on how compared to other children who have been homeless, he had it easy as his period of homelessness was shorter than those he has met with similar stories. Crenshaw himself is fascinating; he combines the sweetness of an imaginary friend with the attitude (Cattitude?) that a talking giant cat would likely have.

 

This story also made me cry in public, which I am usually unhappy about. This story was just so sweet, however, that I did not mind. Jackson’s little sister (amongst others) work to help him accept magic in the world, and while readers will have to check out the book to find out if he does, I guarantee that it will give them something to think about.

 

Curriculum Ties/Library Use:

This would be a great book for reading circles to inspire the discussion of imagination. A fun activity would be to snack on jellybeans and make care packages for local shelters. (Idea from myself)

 

Grade Level: 3-6

 

Awards and Starred Reviews:

Horn Book Guide starred 4/1/16

Horn Book Magazine starred 9/1/15

Library Media Connection starred 1/1/16

Publishers Weekly starred 6/22/15

School Library Journal starred 8/1/15

 

Reviews referenced:

Carr, J. (n. d.). Crenshaw (Review of the book Crenshaw). Common Sense Media. Retrieved from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/book-reviews/crenshaw

Kirkus Reviews. (2015, June 29). Crenshaw (Review of the book Crenshaw). Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved from https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/katherine-applegate/crenshaw/

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Reviews

Late to the show: The One and Only Ivan

Applegate, Katherine. The One and Only Ivan. Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2015. 341 pages. Hardcover $21.29, ISBN 978-0-06-242524-9; Tr. $6.84, ISBN 978-0-06-199227-8; PLB $13.71, ISBN 978-1-48983-627-4

 

TL;DR: Do I recommend this? Yes

 

Genre: Animal stories

 

Part of a series? No.

 

Plot Summary:

This story, told by Ivan the gorilla, relates Ivan, Stella the elephant, Bob the “wild” dog, and Ruby the baby elephant’s tale of woe, stress, and victory. Their “victory” is bittersweet as not everyone can survive the cruelty that humans perpetrate upon animals. As Ruby says, however, not all humans are bad, and it’s up to Ivan to find a way to persuade good people to help him and his friends find a better life outside of cages.

 

Critical Evaluation/Reader’s Comments:

Be prepared to cry your eyes out! This is a sweet, beautiful, and extremely poignant book. I cried several times while reading it (reinforcing my “no books with animals on the cover” rule!). It’s definitely a worthy read, but have some tissues handy if you use it for a book club.

 

Curriculum Ties/Library Use:

This would be a great book club book. There are many topics that come up throughout the novel that would lead to powerful group discussions — animal rights, art, and humanity could all be fruitful topics. A book club activity could be finger painting or watercoloring like Ivan does. (Ideas from myself)

 

Grade Level: 3-6

 

Awards and Starred Reviews:

ALA Notable Children’s Book, 2013

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books starred 2/1/12

Kirkus Reviews starred 10/15/11

Newbery Medal 2013

School Library Journal starred 1/1/12

 

Reviews referenced:

Eisenhart, M. (n. d.). The one and only Ivan (Review of the book The One and Only Ivan). Common Sense Media. Retrieved from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/book-reviews/the-one-and-only-ivan

Bird, E. (2012, March 7). Review of the day: The one and only Ivan by Katherine Applegate (Review of the book The One and Only Ivan). School Library Journal. Retrieved from http://blogs.slj.com/afuse8production/2012/03/07/review-of-the-day-the-one-and-only-ivan-by-katherine-applegate/

Publishers Weekly. (2011, Nov. 14). The one and only Ivan (Review of the book The One and Only Ivan). Publishers Weekly. Retrieved from http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-06-199225-4

 

Does anyone die? :  YES. Stella dies and it is very sad. Ivan survives.