"What bothered me most, though, was that I couldn't fix
anything. I couldn't control anything. It was like driving a bumper
car without a steering wheel. I kept getting slammed, and I had to
just sit there and hold on tight."
In the summer between fourth and fifth grade, Jackson,
protagonist of Katherine Applegate's Crenshaw, has to think about
things most of his peers can take for granted. Will he and his family
have enough food? Will they be able to pay the rent? Will he still
be in the same school when vacation ends? Will they have another
spell of living in their van?
Things have been very rough since his dad was diagnosed with
multiple sclerosis and had to quit a physically demanding job. His
mom's middle school teaching job was cut. Even with both parents
working a patchwork of part time jobs there is never enough money.
Valuables get sold. Utilities get shut off. Jackson and his little
sister, Robin, are constantly hungry. They are always in danger or
At this turbulant point in Jackson's life he is joined by
Crenshaw, a humungous imaginary friend cat who likes bubble baths.
Only Jackson (and possibly family dog, Aretha) can see Crenshaw.
Jackson isn't sure why he is being visited. He isn't much for
imagination. Science and facts are more his cup of cocoa. Also isn't
he a bit old for an imaginary friend?
Still maybe the mega cat can somehow help Jackson gain some way
of coping with his family's very precarious situation.
On a personal note, last week was the UMaine's counseling center's
annual carnival, one of my favorite events of the year. There was
lots of good food. My favorite was the watermelon snow cones. There
were crafts. There were fun games (my favorite being the tricycle
races) to earn tickets to cash in for prizes. I got mood rings, a
stress ball for Joey, and eight sheets of scented stickers to pretty
up my journals. I saw lots of friends. My Islamic friends gave me a
henna tattoo. It was fabulous.
A great big shout out goes out to all the folks who worked hard to
make the carnival a reality. You are simply the best.
Sent from my iPod