Written by Katherine Applegate

Publisher’s Summary:
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?

Primary Source Pairing:
In another beautiful but heart-wrenching story by Katherine Applegate, Jackson narrates his struggles, fears, successes in life, including his experiences with his imaginary friend Crenshaw, the surfboarding cat. Jackson’s parents are unable to pay the rent again and Jackson is faced with the reality of homelessness for the second time in his short life.

According to ISBE, in the 2015-2016 school year, there were 53,733 homeless students in Illinois. These students are in all of our schools. For this primary source pairing, invite students to study the infographic focusing on the challenges homeless students face and how it can impact their academics.

Questions for Discussion:

  • What do you notice first?
  • Find something small but interesting.
  • What do you notice that you didn’t expect?
  • What do you notice that you can’t explain?
  • What can you learn from examining this?
  • What do you still wonder about?
  • How does the information in this infographic connect to the experiences Jackson and his family have in the book Crenshaw?

Book Cover and Summary: Follett
Homelessness Infographic:
Climate and Culture: Homeless Education: