Katherine Applegate's New Book Raises Awareness of Childhood Hunger
Katherine Applegate won one of the biggest honors in children’s literature - the Newbery Medal - for her 2012 novel, The One and Only Ivan. The book, written in the first person perspective of a gorilla, made readers think about how we treat animals.
Applegate raises some equally complex questions in her latest novel.
Crenshaw features a young boy named Jackson whose parents are struggling to make ends meet. Although they are on the verge of homelessness and nearly always hungry, they try to make life as normal as possible.
Applegate was prompted to write about childhood hunger after discovering the shocking reality of so many children in the United States. "It is just unconscionable that we live in this incredibly affluent country that produces so much food and we have 1 in 5 kids who are hungry," she says.
"I did an event the other day. Big group, maybe...800, 900 kids, and we opened it up to Q & A. And the very first question we all sort of blanched at was a little girl who raised her hand and she said, 'If it's okay, I'd like to know if there are any kids in this audience who are ever hungry.' To our surprise an awful lot of kids raised their hands," says Applegate. "It surprised us both because of the number, but also because kids tend to be very uncomfortable talking about anything financial, let alone being hungry."
Applegate has launched the Nationwide Crenshaw Food Drive, an initiative that encourages booksellers to host food drives in their stores to help combat childhood hunger.