by Katherine Applegate
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?
A Note from the First Lady
Dear Read20 Book Club families,
In last month’s book club letter, we talked about the importance of friendship in our lives. But what happens when your friend is a big, imaginary, skateboarding cat?! In this beloved story, Crenshaw returns to Jackson’s life when he needs him most, even if Jackson isn’t quite ready to acknowledge that.
Maybe we all need a bit of Crenshaw in our lives! This magical imaginary friend can teach us a lot about looking on the bright side of tough situations and being honest and understanding with those we hold dear. I have a feeling that once you meet Crenshaw and Jackson, this story might have a special place on your bookshelf forever. And as one character in the novel suggests, I hope you and your family will always choose to “enjoy the magic while you can.”
Keep up the great reading!
First Lady of Tennessee
Fun Family Activities
1. Cultural Connection: In the United States, on any given night, about 549,000 people are homeless, and in Tennessee, about 8,700 people have no place to sleep due to their inability to afford a home. Whatever the reason for homelessness, there are many people working hard to serve homeless people and to end the problem of homelessness in our communities. There are many ways you might be able to do this too, but one in particular is to host a Crenshaw food drive at your school, church, or in your neighborhood. You also might like to volunteer with or visit a local food pantry: Feeding America is a great resource to find out how you can help. It is always a good time to reflect on those that might not have enough, and be thankful for what we do have.
2. Creative Writing: “Imaginary friends don’t come of their own volition. We are invited. We stay as long as we are needed. And then, and only then, do we leave.” Do you think Jackson was glad that Crenshaw came back to him? Why or why not? Why does Crenshaw appear to Jackson this time? Why has Jackson given him the name ‘Crenshaw’ when he doesn’t know anyone else in his life that has this name? Write a short story about your imaginary friend, or what your imaginary friend would be like if you had one! Give your imaginary friend a name, describe what they look like, and write about their personality. What do they add to your life? What would you do together?
3. Wonder: Jackson is a curious boy, and he loves a good fact. Visit the Wonderopolis to do some of your own fact-finding. You might find the answer to some interesting (and some silly) questions, like ‘why do mosquito bites itch?’ or ‘what do astronauts eat in space?’. Which wonder stories interest you? You can even submit questions of your own for which you are wondering the answers! Try submitting a few questions that you are curious about.
4. Further Reading: If you liked reading Crenshaw, your local library can be a great place to find more books by author Katherine Applegate. She has written other wonderful stories, like Home of the Brave, The One and Only Ivan and her newest release Wishtree. She has also written many series like the Animorphs series, the Remnant series and the Everworld series. If you are looking for other books about imaginary friends and their magic, try out Ted by Tony Diterlizzi, Emma Kate by Patricia Polacco, or Imaginary Fred by Eoin Colfer.