My imaginary friend was ‘Bluebeat’. She was a comfort during my early childhood night terrors. Jackson thinks he is too old for imaginary friends, but Crenshaw insists he’s returned because Jackson has summoned him at a time of need. The reader realises Jackson’s need of help, but what can an oversized, bubble-bathing, unwieldy, imaginary giant cat do? Although Jackson’s family’s circumstances are grim, his parents’ overt optimism makes us realise they are averse to facing the truth, while Jackson is frozen by fear of the future and memories of their past.
Having read and loved Katherine Applegate’s earlier novel, ‘The One and Only Ivan’ I was compelled to read ‘Crenshaw’, despite my aversion to the overabundance of recent ‘imaginary friend’ populated children’s books. Gosh I’m glad I did. Katherine Applegate handles imaginary friends, and the weighty theme of poverty respectfully, so that there is no desperate ‘message waving’ evident, just a meaningful reality.
‘Crenshaw’ is warm, honest, reassuring and highly recommended as a story that stays in your head and heart. I am overjoyed to have discovered Katherine Applegate’s quality children’s books.