[epub pdf] The UnderneathAuthor Kathi Appelt – Circuitwiringdiagram.co

There is nothing lonelier than a cat who has been loved, at least for a while, and then abandoned on the side of the roadA calico cat, about to have kittens, hears the lonely howl of a chained up hound deep in the backwaters of 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 her kittens there because Gar Face, the man living inside the house, will surely use them as alligator bait should he find them But they are safe in the Underneathas long as they stay in the UnderneathKittens, 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 For everyone who loves Sounder, Shiloh, and The Yearling, for everyone who loves the haunting beauty of writers such as 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


10 thoughts on “The Underneath

  1. Betsy Betsy says:

    I review lots of books Oodles of caboodles of books And a lot of the time my thoughts can basically be boiled down to very simple sentences Me like book Book good or conversely Me no like book Book bad It takes a very special story to knock me out of this frame of mind When you pick up a copy of The Underneath by Kathi Appelt and you read the words, A novel like this only comes around every few decades, on the back cover you re forgiven if you scoff a little Uh huh Suuuuuure it d I review lots of books Oodles of caboodles of books And a lot of the time my thoughts can basically be boiled down to very simple sentences Me like book Book good or conversely Me no like book Book bad It takes a very special story to knock me out of this frame of mind When you pick up a copy of The Underneath by Kathi Appelt and you read the words, A novel like this only comes around every few decades, on the back cover you re forgiven if you scoff a little Uh huh Suuuuuure it does But doggone it if it isn t true Appelt in her debut novel has somehow managed to write a book that I ve been describing to people as and this is true Watership Down meets The Incredible Journey meets Holes meets The Mouse And His Child If that doesn t make any sense to you it is because you have never read a book quite like this Bound to be one of those books that people either hate or love, I m inclined to like it very very much But that doesn t mean it isn t weird, man Really freaky deaky weird 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 North of the Gulf of Mexico, west of the Sabine River that divides Texas and Louisiana, three hundred miles north of Houston in far East Texas a cat is left to fend for itself in a forest with her belly full of unborn kits She is looking for somewhere safe to live, but instead she finds Ranger Ranger is a hound, shot be accident years ago and chained ever since to the house of a man known only as Gar Face Ranger warns the cat that this place is dangerous and that Gar Face will kill her if he finds her, but she refuses to leave The two curl up under the house into the Underneath and there she gives birth to two kittens that she names Puck and Sabine Unbeknownst to them Gar Face searches the nearby swamps for a massive alligator, hoping to kill it and earn the respect of the men he despises And even further in the forest a bowl waits, containing a serpent known only as Grandmother Moccasin who remembers how she was trapped and contemplates her imminent escape All storylines finally coincide in unpredictable, interesting ways.I brought this book up with a fellow children s librarian, the first I d run into that had also read the story When asked what she thought she said, I liked it But I couldn t figure out who it was written for This isthan a little understandable The story is dark Dark in tone and in content Yet I think The Underneath will definitely have its fans and not just librarians and booksellers either I ve already heard from a couple sources about kids being read this book in class and being desperate to hear at least onechapter Not all children will dig it, of course If you ve a ten year old that can t read Charlotte s Web because they find Charlotte s death too disturbing, boy oh boy is this NOT the book for them Other kids though, the ones with thicker skins, they will find much to love in this story It will usher them into maturity, whether they want to go there or not And it will use cute furry animals to do it.But the darkness extends beyond the critters I for one cannot think of a children s novel that spends as much time as this one does in the head of its villain For that matter, I ve never met a villain this nasty that managed to have zero redeeming characteristics and still remain three dimensional Gar Face is a bad man, and normally I have a real problem with children s book authors telling the audience, This person is bad and there is nothing good about them and that s how the world works It s not like we don t see how the guy came to be bad We see his entire life story from a nasty bird poisoning kid to a nasty bird shooting adult So why didn t I have a problem with the author rendering him in such stark black and white moral terms I can t account for it, except maybe to say that Appelt s writing somehow manages to overcome the normal pits and fissures into which less talented authors fall.I ve read Kathi Appelt s picture books, you know In fact, I am particularly fond of her Bubba and Beau series, following the very low key adventures of a baby Bubba and his hound dog puppy Beau Clearly she has a thing for hound dogs One of the things I like about those books is that Appelt has a real ear for a Texan tongue Midwestern gal that I am, I can t think of a famous Texan children s book author, though I know there are bound to be heaps of them out there But if we can make Appelt our honorary author of the Lone Star State then I am all for it We needchildren s books out there that take advantage of colloquialisms and distinctive turns of phrase You ll see a couple come out every year, but few rope you in completely Now we ve Appelt taking Texas and Ingrid Law s Savvy handling Kansas Things are looking up.And her language Oh, the language Gripping story I can understand, but wrapping it in words like these cannot be easy In the space of three sentences we see a gnarled tupelo tree and an old loblolly pine We hear the wind in the pines and the smell of the water The chapters are always short, often not much longer than a page, but it works in the context of the tale And I loved the way her sentences wrap around themselves Ask a tree, and it will tell you about any number of traps The steel traps of hungers, the steel jaws of gators, the vicious jaws of the water moccasins Notice how that second sentence went from steel traps to steel jaws to vicious jaws Beautiful.Appelt uses repetition in such a way that the book deserves to be read aloud Respect A word he had never had any truck with Respect It crawled down his back like a rat He reached around as if to catch it and then held his empty hand in front of his hideous face Respect He wanted it This repetition doesn t just happen in sentences that repeat a single word or phrase over and over Ideas are repeated too Read the book closely and carefully and you ll find that words you ascribe with families pop up again and again The Alligator King calls Grandmother Moccasin sister Gar Face, searching in vain for the gator he wants to kill, calls him brother Grandmother Moccasin s past mistakes are centered upon her family and what happened to them And of course, the whole story revolves around an unexpected family consisting of a dog and some cats.I compare this book to The Mouse and His Child by Russell Hoban in large part because of David Small Mr Small is fine with doing carefree picture books along the lines of Imogene s Antlers or Once Upon a Banana but there s a darkness to him and to his work that occasionally peeks through the surface The newly reillustrated Hoban book featured Small s illustrations, and they were dark moving images In The Underneath Small goes even darker, his pictures never going for the obvious shot These illustrations complement the action but Small seems to have taken a great deal of care not to distract the reader, or even create an image that the reader will look at withinterest than the text on the opposite page He sometimes will miss a detail from the book Hawk Man s long black hair is conspicuously absent but for the most part his images are dead on the money.I m fairly certain that there will be some objection to the fact that in the middle of the book and for a very long time nothing much happens Characters are in their respective areas and it s only until you reach the slam bang last fifty pages or so that they begin to take action Much of the space in between concerns Grandmother Moccasin s past mistakes, and that s why I kept thinking of Holes as I read the book The climax of the story hinges on Grandmother Moccasin s family, such as it was, and if you don t pay attention to the past then the ending of the book will strike you as unsatisfying It may be hard for some people to invest themselves in the past when the present is so dire Maybe that is why Appelt chose to include some magic She didn t have to She didn t need to But because she did, she made Grandmother Moccasin s memories just that muchinteresting It s up to the reader to determine if it was worth it in the end.Here is what I think the author is trying to say This is just my own interpretation, mind you, so I could be completely off But the book is basically telling us that there is evil in the world It does bad things to good people, and often these people have very little recourse in their lives There is also love in this world Compared to evil, love does not look like much It might just be a kitten licking a dog s ears to make it feel better But love can win and should win and when it does win then that s the story worth telling That s the moment worth remembering It is up to each person to do what they can for love and in doing so understand that while it isn t always enough, sometimes it s everything you need This isn t a pretty message or one that you can tie up with a little bow It s also not often found portrayed as well as it is here in The Underneath Adults don t always like children s books to address the nature of evil, real evil, without coating it in sugar first But as Lemony Snicket s, A Series of Unfortunate Events taught us, kids areresilient and intelligent than we give them credit for They can take messages like this one, process them, and draw their own conclusions This is a book that is not always pretty, and for that very reason a lot of people are going to hate it very much I can only hope that enough other people read it through and take what it has to say to heart Memorable, controversial, wonderful.Ages 8 and up


  2. Joe Joe says:

    There is nothing lonelier than a cat who has been loved, at least for awhile, and then abandoned on the side of the road.This is the breathtaking opening sentence of The Underneath a sentence that has already been over quoted and will probably lose its luster once it is revealed as The Great Deceptor What follows this ingenious sentence, however, is not nearly as captivating Kathi Appelt s asinine debut novel is inexplicably receiving buzz as a contender for the Newbery Medal Perhaps after There is nothing lonelier than a cat who has been loved, at least for awhile, and then abandoned on the side of the road.This is the breathtaking opening sentence of The Underneath a sentence that has already been over quoted and will probably lose its luster once it is revealed as The Great Deceptor What follows this ingenious sentence, however, is not nearly as captivating Kathi Appelt s asinine debut novel is inexplicably receiving buzz as a contender for the Newbery Medal Perhaps after reading the stunning above quoted sentence, many have just thought, Yep, here s a winner and thrown the book to the side Because there really can be no other logical reason for all the hype about The Underneath Unless these same people are mistaking the Newbery for the Caldecott After all, David Small s illustrations throughout this book are the book s strongest point They re charming beyond belief.Kathi Appelt s overly florid prose think Hemingway geared toward kids consists of annoying and sophomoric methods 1 Repetition Ad Nauseum p 263 And then came that night, that long ago night when he had paused and Gar Face shot him, shot his own dog in the leg YES We know about that night Do you know why Because you mentioned it in great detail fifty pages into the book And then a coupletimes in the middle We ve also received the same story in multiple pointless perspectives We are also treated to repetitive stories about the Grandmother, the clay jar, the alligator, Gar Face well, just about everything Multiple chapters are just reiterations of action that has already taken place.2 Run Ons Disguised As Art p 108 Saw him yelp and cry and howl until he had nothing left, until his neck was raw and bleeding where the chain dug into the skin, rubbed the fur away and left it bleeding, raw, sore, until he had no voice at all, until he didn t utter a single sound This also reinforces 1 you ve already mentioned he had no voice, which is the exact same thing as not uttering a single sound Virginia Woolf writes excellent run on sentences But she doesn t write for children And she doesn t indulge in purple prose Also, she actually has something to say In the case of The Underneath, this method just comes across as Desperately Trying Too Hard.3 Endless, Meaningless List p 83 The Caddoo can be found in the memories of trees Not just pines, but hackberries, tupelos, water oaks, winged elms, mulberries, cedars, cypresses, yaupons, bois d arcs Surely he s making that up, you might be thinking No one in their right mind would write a sentence that stupid, and no editor would tolerate it. Please, by all means, reference page 83 of the book It s the third paragraph Oh, and like most everything else in this 320 page snoozefest, it adds nothing to the story Nothing.4 Character Development Concealed As ViolenceWhen Gar Face beats the living hell out of his dog, the violence is jarring not because you don t expect it the character, in the brief biographical sketch we get, is a mean old coot , but because there s virtually no development in either character Therefore, the action seems rooted in stereotype rather than in anything remotely honest In fact, the sequence just seems like a ridiculous ploy to get the reader to gasp And it works Until the wily reader thinks, Wait a minute I know virtually nothing about this dog or about this man What the hell is going on here Are we just supposed to feel sorry and move on, or is something deeper here at work Good luck figuring out that little koan.5 Tone ShiftingFrom the first chapter, The Underneath meanders with a foreboding and funereal tone And then the kittens are born Suddenly, many chapters are manic and bouncy Yes, this tone shift indicates the unbridled playfulness of the kittens, but bookended with the dour passages, it creates an unbelievable inconsistency And when Appelt begins mashing together multiple points of view in a single paragraph Holy Creative Writing No No 101 Here s a clue that something is amiss in a book when reading, if you find yourself wondering things like, I wonder if Axl Rose realizes he looks dumb with corn rows or Maybe I just haven t given cauliflower a fighting chance or Gee, I wonder how many interstitual hairs are on my index finger , then there is something very wrong with the book Want to turn children off to reading permanently Hand them a copy of The Underneath Chronic aliteracy will be nanoseconds away


  3. Cheri Cheri says:

    4.5 StarsWhenever there is a breeze in the old forest, you might, for a moment, realize that the trees are singing There, on the wind, are the voices of sugarberry and juniper and maple, all telling you about this hound, this true blue hound, tied to a post They have been watching him all these years, listening to his song, and if he knew what the trees were singing, it might be about how he found a friend This hound, Ranger, lives his life attached by a chain to the porch of the house w 4.5 StarsWhenever there is a breeze in the old forest, you might, for a moment, realize that the trees are singing There, on the wind, are the voices of sugarberry and juniper and maple, all telling you about this hound, this true blue hound, tied to a post They have been watching him all these years, listening to his song, and if he knew what the trees were singing, it might be about how he found a friend This hound, Ranger, lives his life attached by a chain to the porch of the house where a man who is only known as Gar Face, feeds him when he feels like it, or is sober enough to remember, or care Once upon a time, Ranger was his hunting dog, a good and faithful hunting dog, until one trip where Ranger ends up getting shot in the leg, making him useless as a hunting dog Since that day, he s been alone, chained, and dreaming of the days when his life was better So when a pregnant cat follows the sounds of Ranger s song to his side, he knows he needs to become the protector of their soon to be family He knows they need to know that they need to stay in the Underneath, where the man won t see them It s the only way they will remain safe.Aimed at the 10 age group, story wise, this reads a bit like a cross between Sheila Burnford s The Incredible Journey with a blend of ancient legends, set in the deep woods of the East Texas bayou which adds a haunting, ominous feel It s hard to tell which way for them to turn when there are cougars, a monstrously huge alligator, and an ancient snake ready and waiting to strike The illustrations by David Small in this story and on the cover are wonderful, and add a nice touch, but it s the bond that develops in the present day story, which follows Ranger and the mother cat and kittens that I loved the most Interwoven with the present day story is the story of Grandmother Moccasin, imprisoned for 1,000 years waiting for the moment she will be freed and can reclaim her life How they connect doesn t really come together fully until the very end but I thoroughly enjoyed the fable quality of this, as well Overall, it s the magic of friendship and love that shines through


  4. Chris Chris says:

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers To view it, click here A reading journal of Kathi Appelt s The Underneath, as captured in emails to a friend who enjoyed itSubject Progress Report 1Once the accolades for The Underneath started rolling in and I knew I d be reading it, I decided to keep my reading experience as pure as possible and started avoiding anything about it Didn t want too much hype for it to live up to, hadn t read a single plot summary, didn t look at the back of the book or the inside flap of the jacket Just started it cold at lunch tod A reading journal of Kathi Appelt s The Underneath, as captured in emails to a friend who enjoyed itSubject Progress Report 1Once the accolades for The Underneath started rolling in and I knew I d be reading it, I decided to keep my reading experience as pure as possible and started avoiding anything about it Didn t want too much hype for it to live up to, hadn t read a single plot summary, didn t look at the back of the book or the inside flap of the jacket Just started it cold at lunch today First impression blech Cats, trees, dogs, ugh So not interested To page 26 so far.Subject 43 Pages Choked DownI generally don t quit books as a matter of principle everything must have something to offer But the only reason I m still reading The Underneath is because it s The Underneath, subject of accolades galore I don t get it The writing is awful Absolutely awful She s constantly shifting tenses There s no plot to speak of No characters to identify with Enough with the constant mini chapters alluding to the looming danger of grandmother snake and king alligator either reveal them with some actual action or shut the % up about them already I mean, this is an entire chapter In the deep and muddy Bayou Tartine, the Alligator King floated to the surface Already today he has eaten a dozen turtles tense shiftCaught them sleeping in the dappled sun atop a cypress root He was always hungry tense shiftAlways Before the night fell tense shift , he would eat a giant bullfrog, a wounded mink, and several fish Fish are his primary sustenance tense shift , the fist sized perch and bottom dwelling catfish, but he prefers the creatures of the land They re not quite so salty Beware. WTF Can you be any less subtle Ever hear of understatement Show don t tell God, this book is atrocious.Subject Gotta Figure Out Why People Are Saying Things Like Best Book in a Decade So please don t take this as an attack on your reading tastes for enjoying it I don t want to detract from your experience This is just the way it s striking me and I understand that s just me So if you aren t in the mood for bile, stop reading now And I consider myself an absolutely unpretentious English major I ll defend trash, can t name the majority of grammar rules, believe in stylistic freedom So when the writing and grammar in a book bother me, I figure something s gotta be up Rant from breakfast reading belowPg 83 The trees remember them They do. They do They do Really Are you sure Because based on everything else you ve written so far, I m not so sure Let s seePg 82 It s the trees who keep the legends. Pg 44 A tree s memory is long, stored in its knots and bark and pulp Ask the trees, and they will take you back a thousand years. Pg 40 Trees send out their own messages Here, in the languages of cottonwood and beech, of holly and plum, they announced the names of this new son and this new daughter. Pg 26 No one keeps records No one but the trees They do not count the time in years. Pg 25 There, on the wind, are the voices of sugarberry and juniper and maple, all telling you about this hound, this true blue hound, tied to a post They have been watching him all these years. Pg 3 Trees are the keeper of stories.So when you told me, The trees remember them, I wasn t so sure about it, wasn t that inclined to believe you I had my doubts Luckily you knew what I was thinking and responded before I could even ask my question with, They do. Patronizing, repetitive, circular, stagnant, awful writing Awful Pg 85 What do you call someone who throws a mother cat and her kitten into a creek, who steals them from the hound who loves them, a hound twisting at his chain wailing, who never even looks back, what do you call someone like that The trees have a word evil. Duh I think if you just let your story speak for itself, let me focus on the horror of his actions without all this stupid commentary, I d get that Do you think I m stupid I know throwing cats in the river is evil whether the trees have a word for it or not Never mind your poorly punctuated run on sentence, your writing is patronizing and condescending Pg 88 Sabine, descendant of the great lionesses of the Sarahan plains, grandchild of the mother tigers of the Punjab, tiny heiress of the fearsome lynx and cheetah and panther, night hunters all. Is that supposed to be poetic Because it s a waste of words Flowery nonsense Shut the up and tell the story already Stupid book Subject Another Meal, Another Ridiculous Character Like the trees themselves, he knew the songs of wrens and warblers, the Carolina parakeets, the whip poor wills and crows and red cockaded woodpeckers, for wasn t he one of their kind Wasn t heYou re asking me How the should I know He s your character in your book and you just introduced him out of the blue Why the would you ask me Stupid, cutesy, little, Despereaux wannabe devices The thing about really good fantasy novels is they have this hugely developed universe, every location, character, and legend has an elaborate back story, but we re never told any of it The author has it all in his or her head, but they don t waste time telling the stories that aren t this story Fully fleshed out people and places are seamlessly integrated into the story naturally without any exposition because they make sense narratively You learn about them through their actions as they fit into the story with no voice over necessary This book is all voice over So we have cats and dogs hooking up to raise children, snakes mating with humans, palling around with alligators, and falling for hawks Apparently interspecies love is an important takeaway lesson As long as you can sing the right song When do we get to the lion laying the lamb Subject Weekend UpdateAbout halfway through the book now At least there s been some storytelling for the last while now Not that her method of telling the story makes any sense Despite the mini chapters that skip all over the place with no rhyme or reason, it seemed pretty clear to me she had set up the calico cat, Ranger, Sabine, and Puck as the main protagonists But now one is dead, two mainly dropped out of the narrative, and one stagnating with very short chapters that aren t going anywhere, and instead we get the story the one from a thousand years ago, the one that the trees remember, oh yes they do, those trees remember it, the maple and ash and loblolly pine and aspen and oak and rattler and warbler and oh yes the trees remember you just have to ask because they have long memories and time is different for them and they live millions of years and collect stories and this was just yesterday for them and the trees of snake girl and bird boy and mean old granny and the glittery little one So it s new and different and anti linear western traditionaldeadwhiteguy and whatever, but it sucks So that s the big picture Repetitive, circular, stagnant, awful But I was making progress until a number of things in the last chapter just annoyed me so much I had to put it down Her awful awful awful use of the language Blech Just constant cutesy stuff that distracts from the story and makes me want to puke Like Hurry, she thought, I have to hurry And she walked out of the hut with the jar in her arms, its smooth round surface pressed hard against her chest It felt cool against her skin She walked as fast as she could, but the weight of it slowed her down She had to be careful not to stumble and drop it Oh, glimmering girl, do not drop this jar that your mother has made for you Do not She stepped quickly, carefully, one foot in front of the other, toward the creek. OK, so I m readingnarrativepast tensestory, story, readingwait, whatwhat the was that Oh, glimmering girl, do not drop this jar that your mother has made for you Do not. What Where did that come from Who said that What the was that You re interrupting your own story with some stupid interjection that makes no sense The narrator is telling some story from the past and all of a sudden is so drawn into her own story she becomes a present tense cheerleader Gaugh I can t stand the idiocy of it all And if a character is disturbed, show it through that character s actions Maybe add some internal dialogue if you must But this It s just wrong He called and called for her mother, over and over Something was wrong.Wrong was here.Wrong sat on the ground in front of her.Wrong kept the birds from singing.Wrong.It crept up her legs and into her chest.She heard her father again It might have worked the first time you did something like this with Puck 70 pages ago I still thought it was bad writing and it pulled me out of my reading experience and into analytical mode, but I could appreciate the novelty of it The first time Once and only But you keep doing it This is the second time of three this chapter Reading that wasContinued in first comment


  5. Monica Edinger Monica Edinger says:

    Wow What a book What a story What an amazing piece of writing.Now I admit it took me a while to read this one While I definitely enjoyed sad animal stories as a child, now, with the occasional exception, I avoid them And so, when I received a gorgeously packaged ARC of Kathi Appelt s The Underneath, I admired it as it is handsomely illustrated by David Small , and then read the flap An abandoned calico cat, about to have kittens, hears the lonely howl of a chained up dog Nope Not fo Wow What a book What a story What an amazing piece of writing.Now I admit it took me a while to read this one While I definitely enjoyed sad animal stories as a child, now, with the occasional exception, I avoid them And so, when I received a gorgeously packaged ARC of Kathi Appelt s The Underneath, I admired it as it is handsomely illustrated by David Small , and then read the flap An abandoned calico cat, about to have kittens, hears the lonely howl of a chained up dog Nope Not for me Until someone told me it reminded her of Russell Hoban s The Mouse and his Child which happens to be one of my favorite books So yesterday, feeling lousy with allergies, a head cold, and a painful hip can t run which is misery for me , I pulled out the ARC and read it.And was immediately and utterly drawn in I read without pausing till I was done What a remarkable book It is an adventure, a story of myth and magic, of sadness, of family and is very beautifully done indeed Yes, it is sad Yes, there are abused animals Even worse, some dead ones too But, oh my goodness, is it rich and complex and gorgeous I would have loved, loved, loved it as a child.While I can see why someone might compare it to The Mouse and his Child because of the journey aspect of the story, the setting, and the sentiment within and the illustrations as Small also did an edition of the Hoban book , it seems extremely different to me Another book this reminded me of was Kate DiCamillo s The Tale of Despereaux The darkness, the multiple plot threads from different points in time all coming together slowly, the allegorical qualities, the magical elements are in both But DiCamillo s like Hoban s has humor Be warned that Appelt s book is deadly serious Actually, theI think about it theit reminds me of Rudyard Kipling s The Jungle Books, still books I love, love, love.What is it about Hard to describe It takes place in a deep Southern swamp a place full of sentient trees, of intelligent animals, of shapeshifting creatures, a place of misery and mystery, a place of magic and myth Within this magical yet hyper real place are two twisting and intersecting groups of beings There is the bad man, an abused dog, a calico cat and her twin kittens And then there is the other group The magical and mythical one The story threads swirl and twist around each other, a mix of the past and the present.Just writing this makes me get all hyperbolic Sorry Suffice it to say I recommend it and look forward to hearing what others think about it


  6. Donalyn Donalyn says:

    I am not a good enough writer to tell you why you must read The Underneath.I read a lot of books and I like most of them, but honestly, there are few that set themselves apart as books both magical and haunting, so well crafted that the prose makes my heart ache with longing to readand .The story is a simple one a calico cat, abandoned in the woods when she is pregnant, discovers the shack of a violent, broken man, known as Gar Face, who is so evil he shot his own dog That dog, Rang I am not a good enough writer to tell you why you must read The Underneath.I read a lot of books and I like most of them, but honestly, there are few that set themselves apart as books both magical and haunting, so well crafted that the prose makes my heart ache with longing to readand .The story is a simple one a calico cat, abandoned in the woods when she is pregnant, discovers the shack of a violent, broken man, known as Gar Face, who is so evil he shot his own dog That dog, Ranger, has lived for years chained to the house, inhabiting the nasty space under it The Underneath The mother cat gives birth to her two kittens in this awful place and warns them to never leave the safe space under the house.But kittens are curiousAlongside the tale of the kittens and Gar Face, there is another story, an ancient one, of the woods and the history of sorrow and love that have marked that place for centuries These interwoven stories meet in a powerful conclusion.More than an animal story, The Underneath reads like an old folktale, full of magical realism, and a setting so well drawn it is a main character.As a Texan, the Piney Woods between Houston and Louisiana are known to me, but I have never walked through them, until now Appelt s personification of these woods and the animals and plants that live there is the most beautiful part of this book.The writing is so good, so beautiful, so original, that if The Underneath does not win accolades from every book award committee in America, I don t know anything about books


  7. Roxanne Hsu Feldman Roxanne Hsu Feldman says:

    I cannot give this a rating since I cannot decide how I feel about it On the one hand, I think the author has succeeded brilliantly in creating a world, a mood, a sense of place, a unique tone, a great bunch of palpable characters, a mesmerizing tale There is this rippling effect, formed with recurrences of phrases, that makes me feel I am in the middle of that mysterious swampy land and that the land itself engulfs me There is the unflinching treatment of cruelty and evil embodied by Gar Fac I cannot give this a rating since I cannot decide how I feel about it On the one hand, I think the author has succeeded brilliantly in creating a world, a mood, a sense of place, a unique tone, a great bunch of palpable characters, a mesmerizing tale There is this rippling effect, formed with recurrences of phrases, that makes me feel I am in the middle of that mysterious swampy land and that the land itself engulfs me There is the unflinching treatment of cruelty and evil embodied by Gar Face that made me cringe I hate animal suffering stories and this one tops them all On the other hand, the recurring phrases and the listing of different trees, birds, other creatures get to be so annoying that I wanted to fling the book away and say, ENOUGH Just get on with the STORY Stop being so pretentious and over crafting Grrrr It seems so over the top and so over done And I am so unhappy when a book is so different from its cover Let s not fool little children and their parents into thinking this is a lovely animal buddies story, please


  8. Bonnie Bonnie says:

    I gave this award winning book to my daughter a few years ago when she still found readingof a chore than a joy I thought, here s a warm fuzzy story about a dog and a cat who become friends it s an award winner it must be good she ll love it Well, she didn t make it through the first 20 pages before discarding it I recently picked it up looking for a quick read and couldn t have beensurpised by what I found I hadn t readthan a few chapters before I recognized it as somet I gave this award winning book to my daughter a few years ago when she still found readingof a chore than a joy I thought, here s a warm fuzzy story about a dog and a cat who become friends it s an award winner it must be good she ll love it Well, she didn t make it through the first 20 pages before discarding it I recently picked it up looking for a quick read and couldn t have beensurpised by what I found I hadn t readthan a few chapters before I recognized it as something extraordinary It is not a warm fuzzy story about a dog and cat but rather a very serious fable about the battle of good and evil, the conquering of love over hate I can see why my daughter found it weird and didn t enjoy it I think this is a book for older readers, maybe 6th grade on up, unless it s read aloud and discussed Which actually would be even better because the language in absolutely beautiful and reads like a poem I have seldom become so emotionally caught up in a book, let alone a book intended for children At one point I found myself holding my breath in anticipation and I seriously had goosebumps while reading the last few pages Now that my daughter is older I hope she ll give this wonderful book another try It s just too good to pass up


  9. Caroline Caroline says:

    I m not really sure how to explain my feelings about this book While I recognize that the writing is compelling and builds a great deal of suspense, I was just annoyed throughout the book I m also not convinced that this will be an attractive book to kids, who are the targeted audience, as far as marketing efforts go And of course, the book has been nominated for the National Book Award and has all sorts of rumblings for the Newbery I can only say I hope it doesn t win the Newbery It would I m not really sure how to explain my feelings about this book While I recognize that the writing is compelling and builds a great deal of suspense, I was just annoyed throughout the book I m also not convinced that this will be an attractive book to kids, who are the targeted audience, as far as marketing efforts go And of course, the book has been nominated for the National Book Award and has all sorts of rumblings for the Newbery I can only say I hope it doesn t win the Newbery It would be another disappointing pick in a decade of disappointing winners.When I really enjoy a book, I can usually whip through it pretty quickly Not so with The Underneath It took me a long time to read for several reasons 1 I have a tendency to take a break from reading a book when a chapter ends With 124 incredibly short chapters, that adds up to a lot of breaks 2 The repetition of certain phrases over and over and over drove me nuts even though I recognize it was a conscious, stylistic choice on the author s part 3 The two story lines were distracting I didn t really care one whit about Grandmother Moccasin s story, even though she ended up playing a key role in the Ranger and cats story I would have rather read a simple story about a hound and his kittens and have Appelt find some other plot device to wrap up the story


  10. Kwoomac Kwoomac says:

    This book had me crying on page one It s a dark story about an abused dog, an abandoned cat, and her kittens who come together to try to forge a life under the porch of a creepy, damaged man who enjoys killing things It s powerful and disturbing and there s an awful lot of death for a children s novel.The story meanders back and forth between 1000 years ago and today It has an interesting rhythm to it as the story builds to its ultimate climax I loved the writing, I loved most of the chara This book had me crying on page one It s a dark story about an abused dog, an abandoned cat, and her kittens who come together to try to forge a life under the porch of a creepy, damaged man who enjoys killing things It s powerful and disturbing and there s an awful lot of death for a children s novel.The story meanders back and forth between 1000 years ago and today It has an interesting rhythm to it as the story builds to its ultimate climax I loved the writing, I loved most of the characters Did I mention that the dog sings the bluesOh, I woke up on this bayou, Got a chain around my heart Yes, I m sitting on this bayou, Got a chain tied round my heart Can t you see I m dying Can t you see I m crying Can t you throw an old dog a bone This book was like a chain around my heart