“Imaginary friends don’t come of their own volition. We are invited. We stay as long as we are needed. And then, and only then, do we leave.”
About this book:
A young boy is reunited with his imaginary friend, a giant cat named Crenshaw. He has a hard time accepting that Crenshaw has returned because he feels that he is too old for that sort of thing, but Crenshaw has returned for a reason. Crenshaw originally appeared when the family fell on hard times and lost their home. The family is once again about to lose their home when Crenshaw returns.
I chose this book for my November post because November marks a time when families gather to eat food and give thanks for what they have. It is a good time to think about others who may not have enough. The family in this book doesn't have enough to eat, but they do have "enough" in many other ways. As the winter holidays approach, people think about giving to others. This book explores topics like childhood hunger, homelessness, food insecurity, overcoming adversity, resilience, family relationships, friendship, and helping others. It's a perfect read for this time of year; a great book to share with children that may be caught up in the whirlwind of "getting" that surrounds the holiday season.
Common Sense Media recommends this book for ages 8+.
How does fiction express universal truths and insights into the human condition?
Why do we need to go beyond the literal meaning of a text to interpret the author's words, intent, purpose, and message?
What is real?
In the face of adversity, what causes some individuals to prevail while others fail?
Is there an optimal balance between worry and contentment?
What are the responsibilities of the individual / family / community / society in regard to the health and welfare of it’s children?
Part 1: A Door is to Open
Don't have Google Classroom? Click HERE for a quote analysis document. To edit this document or assign it to your class, please click on "file" > "make a copy" to add it to your own Google Drive.
Pairings: Novel + Picture Books as Keepsakes
I like to have my students write blog posts about our reading. I thought this lesson would make a great blogging topic for them. Ask students to write about a favorite book from their childhood. They would need to summarize the story, explain why it was important to them, and elaborate on what it said about who they were at that time. You could also have students bring in a favorite book from their childhood for a special book talk edition of show and tell.
Part 2: Mashed Potatoes are to Give Everybody Enough
Click HERE for a quote analysis document.
Pairing: Novel + Music
Jackson and Robin’s parents are both musicians, and music is very important to them; in fact, they named their children after the companies that made their guitars. They especially like the music of guitarist B. B. King and singer Aretha Franklin. In this lesson, students listen to recordings by both of these performers, and discuss how the music makes them feel, as well as why these particular performers were so important to Jackson’s parents.
The text set includes songs that connect to the story in some way, an article about how colors affect our mood, and a song analysis task. You might like to follow up this lesson with a journal write, classroom discussion, or even individual blog posts using this prompt:
When you have “the Blues”, what’s a song that you like to listen that lifts your spirits?
Part 3: The World is so You Have Something to Stand On
Click HERE for a quote analysis document.
Pairing: Novel + Poetry
The combination of this poem with the novel would be a great lead to a class discussion, blog post, or other writing task on the topic of "masks".
Why has Jackson never told his best friend Marisol about Crenshaw and about his family’s problems? Why does he tell her now? How are Jackson & Marisol like the boy and girl in the Poem?
Pairing: Novel + TED Talk
“It’s surprising how much stuff adults don’t know.” From “Crenshaw”, page 205
Jackson reminds me of the young girl in this TED talk in many ways; both show a wise maturity beyond their years that gives them a unique insight into the relationship between children and adults. There is a great article on Wonderopolis titled "What Children Can Teach Their Parents" that would be a great supplement to this topic as well. After watching this video, you may want to have students share, either through class discussion or by writing a response to this prompt: What is something that you can share that adults don’t know but you think they should?
Pairing: Novel + Online Articles
Pairing: Novel + Photo Essay
"One in five children lives in a household that struggles to put food on the table. That’s 16 million hungry Americans. Generation No Kid Hungry believes teens can make a difference. Add your voice and vision to the fight against childhood hunger." From No Kid Hungry
In this task students explore photo essays before creating a photo essay of their own for this prompt:
How does childhood hunger affect the lives of teens and children where you live?
Since this book is broken down into three parts, I presented the lessons in a different way. I created three game board style hyperdocs, one for each section, with related texts that compliment what is happening in each part of the story. The white squares are texts and the purple squares lead students to lessons. You can access these documents by clicking on the buttons below. Once in the lesson, you will be in "view only" mode in my document. If you want to use these lessons please click on "file" then click "make a copy" to add the documents to your Google drive. Once you have added the lesson to your Google drive you can edit as needed before assigning to your class. You will need to "make copies" of the individual lessons from the purple squares as well.
If you would prefer a slides format of the novel study guide, you can access that above left. There are a few more lessons than are included in the game board style documents. I tend to create more content than a class could possibly do during the novel study, so it would be best to choose the topics and skills that would be most appropriate for your class and focus on those lessons.
If you like books about imaginary friends, you may want to check out one of these titles:
Click on the image for more information about these titles. "Confessions of an Imaginary Friend" is at the top of my list to read next.
I am an English teacher, Curriculum Designer, and Instructional Coach that is passionate about literature.
In each post I will offer a review of a young adult novel and suggestions for text pairings. These posts will often include links to digital resources for teaching the content referenced in the post, as well as digital lessons (I use Google Docs) which you can download for free. Subscribe to my blog so that you can get an email notification when a new book is highlighted.