Applegate, K. (2015). Crenshaw. New York: Feiwel & Friends.
Fifth-grader Jackson is too good a budding scientist not to understand where the data is leading him. Jackson and his family have fallen on hard times. There’s no more money for rent. And not much for food, either. It all reminds him of what happened a few years ago, when his family became homeless and lived in their minivan for 14 weeks. But as he broods about this possibility, Jackson is surprised by another blast from the past: the return of Crenshaw, his former imaginary friend, a giant, snarky cat with a taste for purple jelly beans. 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?
Evaluative Criteria for Fantasy:
In Crenshaw, there’s an undertone of sadness that is coupled with a hopefulness that is extremely important in children’s literature. Crenshaw makes you think about the harshness of homelessness; however, it shows the importance of family, hope, and friendship–both of the imaginary and real kind.
Jackson, Crenshaw’s protagonist, is going through a rough patch emotionally because of his parents’ job situations and their past financial problems. Crenshaw, Jackson’s imaginary friend, serves as a tool for Jackson to be able to tell his parents the truth about how he really feels. Jackson feels such anxiety and pressure on him because he knows he has to be a grown up for himself and his younger sister.