February 20

Exclusive Cover Reveal for Katherine Applegate’s Crenshaw + A Bonus Guest Post

One of the first questions an author hears at school visits is, “Where do you get your ideas?” (followed by “Do you know J.K. Rowling?” and “Will you autograph my sneakers?”).

My answers, for the record:

—I just ask “What if?” and record what happens.

—No, but if she wants me to stop by the castle for a spot of tea, I’m there, dude.

—Sure, but don’t tell your mom where I live.

When I’m working on an idea, I toss random bits and pieces into my mental blender to see what happens. (This is also how I cook, which is why my daughter and husband have banned me from the kitchen.) Often the ideas are wildly disparate. That was certainly true of my newest novel, CRENSHAW.

On the one hand, I was interested in exploring the topic of hunger in America in a gentle, child-friendly way. 62% of U.S. teachers regularly see kids who come to school hungry, despite established programs like SNAP, and innovative new ones like Lunch at the Library. I’m sure many Nerdy Book Club members have witnessed this heartbreaking problem in their own schools.

On the other hand, I wanted to try out a story about a boy’s imaginary friend, a large talking cat named Crenshaw.

(Very large.) Crenshaw returns when the boy is older, with an extraordinary change: this time, the imaginary friend is most definitely real.

Why a cat? I’m not sure. Mostly because I figured the voice would be fun to do: both silly and supercilious, with a hint of tenderness. Still, I suppose Crenshaw could have been an aardvark or an axolotl. (Look it up. I sure had to.)

Why an imaginary friend? Probably because I adore the movie Harvey. If you haven’t seen the film, based on Mary Chase’s brilliant play, abandon this post immediately and dash to Netflix. You can thank me later.

It took a while to blend the ingredients, but I had a ball perfecting the recipe for CRENSHAW. It’s an honor to reveal the cover here for my fellow Nerdy booklovers, the most passionate advocates for children’s literature on the planet.

Katherine Applegate has written many books for children and young adults, including The Buffalo Storm (a picture book), Roscoe Riley Rules (a chapter book series), and Animorphs (which she wrote with her husband, Michael Grant.) Her novel Home of the Brave was awarded the 2008 Golden Kite Award for Best Fiction, the Bank Street 2008 Josette Frank Award for children’s fiction, and was a Judy Lopez Memorial Award honor book.

She lives in California with her husband, two children, and assorted pets.

You can find her online at  http://theoneandonlyivan.com and on Twitter as @kaaauthor.

Katherine Applegate

Macmillan wants to give away 3 copies of Crenshaw to Nerdy Book Club members. Please fill out the form below to enter. You must be at least 13 to enter. Giveaway ends February 22 at midnight (ET). Advanced reader copies of the book will be shipped when they become available (May).