Saturday, January 20, 2018

Book Review: Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate, narrated by Kirby Heyborne (audio)

I wasn't so sure about a book about a giant imaginary cat, but audiobook options are limited, the author's latest book has been getting fantastic reviews, and I figured, what the heck. I wanted to listen to a short audiobook, and a middle grade book would never be more than a few hours.

First I should say that the narrator was excellent. While obviously an adult, his voice really fit wonderfully with the book, and I would love to hear more books read by him. His voice was quiet and soothing without putting me to sleep, and conveyed emotion subtly.

Jackson overhears his parents talking about money. About rent. Jackosn and his sister play games in order to drag out eating things like 15 pieces of cereal for a long time. It helps them to not focus on the fact that they only have 15 pieces of cereal. She asks him what it was like when they lived in their minivan, because she was too little to remember. Jackson remembers, but he prefers not to.

And then Crenshaw appears in their bathroom, taking a bubble bath. Cats don't usually like baths, but they also aren't usually as big as a man and don't talk. Crenshaw was Jackson's imaginary friend when he was little. He doesn't understand why Crenshaw is back, since he's older. Crenshaw tells him he's back because Jackson needs him. Jackson disputes this, but Crenshaw doesn't go away.

As an adult reading this, it was heartbreaking. This family was in the situation of so many Americans, where just one thing going wrong will break them. So when on of Jackson's mom's three jobs cuts her hours, they're done for. His father has MS so he's really limited in what he can do. They're too proud to ask family for help which really did needle me, but at the same time, a loan, or even a small gift, won't fix their lives. They wanted to be singer/songwriters and they hung onto that dream for just too long. I don't think kids will pick up on a lot of that nuance, especially if they're not ready for it, but the truth is that a lot of their classmates's families are riding the financial edge, even if the kids don't realize it. And kids often pick up on more than their parents realize. and sometimes, you really need a giant talking cat (with fingers!) around to help out. A beautiful, touching story.

This review is a part of Kid Konnection, hosted by Booking Mama, a collection of children's book-related posts over the weekend.

I downloaded this eaudiobook from the library via Overdrive. It is published by my employer.

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