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The Underneathby Kathi Appelt
Synopses & Reviews
There is nothing lonelier than a cat who has been loved, at least for a while, and then abandoned on the side of the road.
An abandoned calico cat, about to have kittens, hears the achingly lonely howl of a chained up, abused hound dog deep in the bayou. She dares to find him in the forest and the hound dares to befriend this cat, this feline, this creature he is supposed to hate. They are an unlikely pair, about to become an unlikely family. Ranger urges the cat to hide underneath the porch, to raise Sabine and Puck there because Gar-Face, the man living inside the house, will surely use her or her kittens as alligator bait should he find them. But, they are safe in the underneath...as long as they stay in the underneath.
Kittens, however, are notoriously curious creatures. And one kitten's one moment of curiosity sets off a chain of events that is astonishing, remarkable, and enormous in its meaning. In the tradition of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Flannery O'Connor, and Carson McCullers, Kathi Appelt spins a harrowing yet keenly sweet tale about the power of love (and its opposite, hate), the fragility of happiness — and the importance of making good on your promises.
"On the page, Appelt's first novel, about abused animals and set in a Deep South swamp, reads like it might be spoken with a pronounced twang. Zackman's interpretation, however, is so mellifluous that it sounds like a lullaby. That smooth delivery strikes a discordant note with the material, a story that braids three dark narrative strands: the vodka-swilling Gar Face's battle with the 100-foot-long Alligator King; Gar Face's abused, chained hound dog's ill-fated shepherding of a mother cat and her kittens; and the thousand-year imprisonment of Grandmother Moccasin, a serpent so selfish she resents her daughter falling in love. The even-keel delivery also makes it hard to keep track as the story shifts among the myriad points of view, which include those of the villain, a family of shape-shifters, various animals and sentient trees. Appelt's stylistic choice to use repetition as a construct — 'This cat, this feline, this creature he is supposed to hate...' — makes for a monotonous audio experience, and her use of words such as 'goldy' (to describe sunshine) makes this disquieting book sound precious. Ages 9 — 12. Simultaneous release with the S&S/Atheneum hardcover. (May)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
About the Author
Kathi Appelt is the author of the Newbery Honor-winning, National Book Award finalist, PEN USA Literary Award–winning, and bestselling The Underneath as well as the highly acclaimed novel Keeper, the National Book Award Finalist The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp, and many picture books, including Mogie: The Heart of the House. She is a member of the faculty at Vermont College’s Master of Fine Arts program and lives in Texas with her husband. Visit her at <>KathiAppelt.com.
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