Crenshaw (hardcover)

by Katherine Applegate

AR Level 3.8, 3 points


Did you read The One and Only Ivan?  If you did, you’re familiar with Katherine Applegate’s writing, and you’ll probably enjoy Crenshaw, as well.  However, you’ll probably have the same frustrations at the same time.

Crenshaw follows the story of a young boy whose family has come into hard times.  His family was homeless at one point in the story.  He is having to sell his possessions and console his little sister, which is a lot on the plate of a child.  It is a sad, but real, picture of our students living in poverty.  How can we get mad at them for not having a pencil when they ate Cheetohs and water for dinner and slept in a cold van?  What makes this a light-hearted story is that Crenshaw is the name of Jackson’s imaginary friend, who appears in times of stress.  Jackson also learns that not only does his best friend have an imaginary friend, but there are many others out there.

What I liked about this book was that it gave a realistic look into the life of a homeless family.  That isn’t a fun topic to read about, I know, but I have never been homeless (though I understand going to bed hungry, living in a small apartment, and not having what most kids my age had).  I think understanding the point of view of a child the same age as my students who is having to deal with these issues is important for me as a teacher.  I did appreciate the way Applegate kept the book lighthearted through Crenshaw, a cat who stands on his head and loves bubbles.

What I didn’t like about this book was that it was written at a 3.8 level, meaning that while it had challenging content, the book itself wasn’t challenging.  I’m not sure if that is intentional or not.  I feel like it was written in simple sentences (sometimes powerful, sometimes just simple).  It is a good book for some of my lower readers (who all LOVED Ivan), but I look forward to reading something more challenging and engaging.

Book 24 of 40 (year 2)


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