Review: Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate

81Y+vQ0oq1LBooks serve many different purposes. They give us a fun escape from the demands of daily life. They give us a glimpse into a time from long, long, ago. And often, they give voice to our thoughts as the author so eloquently puts words to what may be going on in our lives.

Young Jackson and his family are having big problems. Dad is ill and unable to work regularly, and Mom pieces together part-time jobs to make ends meet. But it isn’t enough. Jackson and his little sister, Rosie, go to bed hungry more often than not. And when a yard sale that includes all of their belongings doesn’t even bring in enough to cover next month’s rent, they find themselves on the verge of being homeless once again. Just when Jackson thinks his life can’t get any worse, his imaginary friend, Crenshaw, makes a reappearance. And just as when he was younger, Crenshaw is there to help him make sense of things.

Just as she did in “The One and Only Ivan”, Katherine Applegate brings to life the magical world described on the pages. Her descriptions of Crenshaw’s antics are spot-on as any cat owner will recognize. The innocent denial of Jackson and Robin is truly childlike. As it should be. And her underlying message of friendship is timeless as well as ageless. Friendship is what pulls us through, gives us hope when things aren’t going so well. Who cares if that friendship comes in the form of an imaginary human-size cat?

Yes, this is more of a children’s book than a book that is truly meant for adults. But aren’t we all children at heart? I mean, how many of us read ALL of the Harry Potter books? Multiple times? Crenshaw is a story that can be enjoyed by readers of all ages. Read it by yourself, read it to a special young person in your life, just read it.


Buy It Now: Crenshaw

Review: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo

51sM5xQaE4L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_One of the things that I love most about this blog is the variety of books that we Muses choose to read and review. Our tastes differ from each other, and even vary day to day depending on the mood we’re in. Very reflective of our readers, I do believe! So with that in mind, I’m presenting you with a book that is at first glance a children’s book. However, if you look a bit deeper, you’ll find that it’s a timeless story.

Here’s the story of a rabbit named Edward. But Edward is not just any rabbit. He’s a very special china rabbit who is loved and adored by young Abilene. Edward has a wonderful life and enjoys all the finest things that money can buy. But one day, he is lost at sea. I won’t tell you how because that’s one of the best scenes in the book. Still, his journey overboard leads him on a long series of adventures. Some of his adventures are not so bad, and some are downright horrible. Along the way, he begins to understand the meaning of love and hope. He realizes that love can be different things to different people. And sadly, he finds out that sometimes hope is lost.

This book is listed as appropriate for grades 2-4, but I would dare to say it can be enjoyed by all ages. Most definitely older kids would fall under Edward’s spell as well. And as a read-aloud, it just can’t be beat. I read this one to my students over a period of several weeks, and each day they begged for “just one more chapter.” The chapters are short, but each one leaves you wanting just a bit more.

Kate DiCamillo is a highly acclaimed children’s author, one whose stories have received numerous awards. Her gifts to us have included Because of Winn Dixie and The Tale of Despereaux among others. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane is another of those books destined to become a favorite on bookshelves everywhere, a story to be read over and over again.


Buy It Now: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane