Welcome to 2018, the year I work my way through our collection of middle grade books (books written for 5th-7th grade). I’m starting at the beginning of the author alphabet with Applegate, author of one of my favorite middle grade books, the Newbery Award winning The One and Only Ivan. While Crenshaw doesn’t feature any gorillas, it does have a giant, invisible cat.
When Jackson was in first grade, he had an imaginary friend: a big black and white cat he named Crenshaw, who helped him through a pretty tough time for his family. Now, Jackson is in 5th grade, and while his life has been stable for a few years, things are starting to crumble. And Jackson starts seeing Crenshaw again. While Jackson is a very scientific minded boy who values facts, he can’t deny that he is seeing something that isn’t there. And he wants to understand how and why.
The story is sweet and relatable, with characters that are fully realized facing issues that are all too real, like homelessness. If you’re a fan of tales that tug your heartstrings, feature a bit of magic, and leave you feeling hopeful, Crenshaw might be a good choice for you.