I expected this book to be about an imaginary friend, an imaginary cat. And there was a cat, a giant one named Crenshaw, who happens to be imaginary.

It opens really cute with a boy spotting Crenshaw on a surfboard.

But the reality of this boy’s life soon enters the story. Crenshaw made his first appearance when Jackson and his family had to live out of their minivan. His parents used to be musicians but his father has MS and his mother now works part-time jobs to get by.

And now, a few years later, he’s back again, when things seem to be not going as well. Jackson, who’s heading into fifth grade, wishes his parents would realize that he’s old enough to understand their financial difficulties. Jackson is scared that they have to go back to living in their car again.

And Crenshaw, with his cartwheels, splits, and penchant for bubble baths, both helps to distract him and understand their situation.

We listened to this audiobook and I was surprised by how much my kids enjoyed it. I had to stop the audiobook here and there just to make sure the 5yo (and sometimes the 8yo) understood what was going on. We haven’t quite read a book like Crenshaw before, one which talked about hunger and poverty and eviction. I had to explain about eviction – and as I did I was thankful that this was something we’ve never had to worry about. Perhaps it was because of this audiobook that I started on my current nonfiction read, Evicted.


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