Reclaiming an Imaginary Friend

Crenshaw, by Katherine Applegate, (Felwel & Friends, Macmillan), 256 pages, release date 22 September, 2015


Life is tough in Jackson’s family. His parents are perpetually under- or unemployed. They move from apartment to apartment, sometimes living in their car—and Jackson feels particularly responsible for the well-being of his younger sister.

Into this situation enters Crenshaw, an imaginary friend from Jackson’s past: a human-sized cat, who skateboards and loves bubble baths. Jackson is nonplussed at Crenshaw’s arrival, worrying about his own sanity. But Crenshaw’s advice—”tell the truth”—is valuable, and at least the family dog appears to see him.

The publisher presents this as a book for children ages 8 to 12, and almost any reader in that age range is going to find this novel both engaging and comforting. The cadence of Applegate’s prose means the book would also work well as a read-aloud title for younger children—and some adults, myself included, will certainly find time with Crenshaw time well spent.

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