Jackson is an average kid living with his eccentric, music-loving parent, and little sister. While most kids his age are worried about friends, grades, or the latest video game, Jackson finds himself thinking more like an adult these days. Is there enough food? Is there money? Where will the family stay? Struggling with the hardships that come along with poverty, he finds comfort in an imaginary cat named Crenshaw. It’s his imagination and relationship with Crenshaw that allows Jackson to cope with some of the obstacles his family is facing.

Applegate, K. (2015). Crenshaw. New York: Feiwel & Friends.

Evaluative Criteria: Plot and Characters

  1. Crenshaw is a book about family, hardships, resilience, and an imaginary friend that symbolizes comfort and ease. The plot is logical and very believable to readers who have experienced poverty at one point in their life. Jackson’s family has to overcome many obstacles, and Jackson has to cope with the cards he’s been dealt; he finds himself having to grow up too soon, and in seeking refuge from his own fears creates Crenshaw, his imaginary friend. Through this fantastical outlet, Jackson finds comfort. The novel is one most can readers can believe in and appreciate because, as kids, that’s a relatable coping mechanism, a way of dealing with circumstances that are out of their hands.
  1. Applegate creates at dynamic character in Jackson, a little boy well beyond his years. He is someone who grows and transitions mentally throughout the novel. Though not at his own volition, Jackson’s character is at the in-between that is experienced between childhood and adolescence. Most readers will attest to this experience themselves; too old to be acting like a little kid, but too young to be completely mature. Most kids create an outlet where they can escape this pressure, this phase of life, whether it is through a hobby, writing, or, in this case, an imaginary friend. This fantasy novel is reassuring to the young readers who, like Jackson, feel like they have the weight of the world on their shoulder.

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