Welcome back to Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers.
Goodbye October (good riddance...more on that later), and HELLO NOVEMBER! Can't you just feel it? Autumn is in the air. The breeze is a little more brisk, the leaves are a lovely shade of Mother Nature's wondrous palette, and the temperatures are...a balmy eighty degrees. *-* Yeah, okay, so the weather here has been anything but ideal for the time of year, my own sneaky suspicions are that starting tomorrow when I'm back from my staycation they will be lovely, and the events of the last few days are memorable but not for any grand reasons...that doesn't mean that I can't be grateful that they weren't any worse. What's that? You don't know what I'm talking about? Then you must not be following me on Twitter (it's @GRgenius, in case you were wondering), but I'll forgive the oversight and give you the cliff notes version.
Picture it. Halloween night 2015. There I was with a pumpkin pail full of candy bags ready to give out to the little trick or treaters I was anticipating this year when...the water heater decides to crap out on us. I'm not talking full on gallons of water everywhere. No. I mean the kind where it starts running out from the top and if you don't notice it, you WILL have that mini version of Noah's grand adventure. *sigh* Point one to be grateful for, noticing it at first spurt. I quickly called for Mom and Dad, he comes out to investigate while I wait on pins and needles. Needless to say, Halloween has to be cancelled at my house because I was off to get a new water heater. Yay. (< - said with the least amount of enthusiasm possible) Flash forward 5 hours later and I've acquired the skills to installment a replacement unit, provided there is a "muscle man" available to do the heavy lifting (that sucked was RIDICULOUSLY heavy!). Muscles are sore today that I didn't even know I had. Grateful to the 'rents for their assistance, but the holiday was a bust. Still, point number two to be grateful for, it could have been worse. Now, let's jump back into the books, shall we?
Today's selection hit store shelves a month or two ago via Feiwel and Friends. You may have seen it already, picked it up to flip through the pages and what not, or simply recognized the author name and made a mental note to go back one day to investigate further. Let today be that day. I had the pleasure of reading an ARC copy of the work back in September (yes, I know...I should have reviewed it then, but hang on a moment...) and though my schedule was busy at the time to add it in, I really wanted to wait for the perfect moment to bring it back to the spotlight. November being the month for remembering the reasons we are thankful and sharing with others, I thought it more than appropriate. Ladies and gents, boys and girls, have a tissue at the ready and let your imaginations run wild because this one is going to hit home in some fashion no matter where you're coming from, at now, or heading to. Today's book of choice is...
Feiwel and Friends
About the book...
Jackson and his family have fallen on hard times. There's no more money for rent. And not much for food, either. His parents, his little sister, and their dog may have to live in their minivan. Again.
Crenshaw is a cat. 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?
My word, what a story!
I don't know if it's where I am in my own life or simply the magic that is Jackson and Crenshaw but I was in tears...both the happy and sad types. It certainly tackles big issues in a kid friendly manner and the dash of magic is just right to soften the harsh realities. I admit when I first started the book and Crenshaw makes his unique introduction, I wasn't that crazy about it. As vivid as my imagination is I never indulged in an imaginary friend in childhood. Funny considering I am an only child and my mother raised me by herself, leaving much time to oneself. Add to that the fact that I was rather shy so friends didn't come so easily to me, though I was happy to play or chat with whomever would. I suppose my love of reading took that niche, that particular role as I would get lost between the pages of something or another both then and to this day. After all, one is never really alone if you've a great book in hand...anyway, let's get back to the story.
As mentioned, there are some BIG issues tackled here that are both relevant AND scary. Homelessness. Hunger. Instability. The unknown. Grant it, we all grapple with the latter, but the former should never be a question in anyone's mind, especially that of a child. It's hard enough worrying about all of it as an adult when you can do something about it (to a degree), but as a child, I can only imagine how big the question mark looming over your head must seem. My heart broke for Jackson and his family, time and again. When the revelation as to why the wild, crazy, and lovable Crenshaw had returned is revealed, I was definitely reaching for the tissues.
In conclusion, it's not a happy way to while away an afternoon, nor a light fluffy read to quietly turn the pages through and sigh in delight. What it is though is pure magic and a moving way to get people thinking about those hard situations and what we can do to change those circumstances. No one should go hungry, homeless, or helpless. There should always be a helping hand reaching out in that time of need. Is that the case today? No, but that doesn't mean it had to stay that way. To discover ways you can help the hungry in your community and read about the bookstores that participated in the Crenshaw Food Drive, stop by the official book page for some tips and ideas to help in your neighborhood. Every act of kindness counts, no matter how big or small. The difference it makes can be a drop in the ocean to you but the world to the person it helps.
About the author...
Katherine Applegate is the author of the bestselling Animorphs series and the novels Home of the Brave and The One and Only Ivan, winner of the 2013 Newbery Medal. She lives with her husband, author Michael Grant, and their two children in Northern California.
Special thanks to the amazing team at MacMillan Children's Publishing Group for the ARC for review. (THANKS!) For more information on this title, the author, or the publisher, feel free to click through the links provided above. This title is IN STORES NOW via Feiwel and Friends, an imprint of MacMillan, so be on the lookout for it on a bookstore shelf or virtual retailer of your choosing.
Until next time...happy reading!