Katherine Applegate on Crenshaw

applegate_crenshawIn our September/October issue, HB editorial assistant Shoshana Flax asked Katherine Applegate about the impetus for her touching new novel Crenshaw. Read the full starred review of Crenshaw here.

Shoshana Flax: Which came first: the idea of writing about an imaginary friend or about a boy and his family dealing with poverty? How did one lead to the other?

Katherine Applegate: We’re in chicken-or-egg territory here, but I suspect the imaginary friend came first. The inspiration probably dates back some forty-odd years, when I first viewed the brilliant Jimmy Stewart movie Harvey, which features a large, invisible rabbit. While I’ve never had an imaginary friend myself, it seemed like an intriguing premise for a novel, especially if the main character, Jackson, was a practical, just-the-facts kind of kid, one facing intractable, grown-up problems such as poverty and hunger. I wrote Crenshaw because I wanted librarians to have a story they could hand to kids like Jackson, kids for whom uncertainty is the only certain thing in their young lives.

From the September/October 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Shoshana Flax

Shoshana Flax, associate editor of The Horn Book, Inc., is a former bookseller and holds an MFA in writing for children from Simmons University. She has served on the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award and Sydney Taylor Book Award committees, and is serving on the 2025 Walter Dean Myers Award committee.

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