Monday, December 5, 2016

The Underneath

The Underneath by Kathi Appelt  311 pp.

This is another of the books selected for the Treehouse Book Club and the most beautifully written of this year's selections. It was chosen as a National Book Award Finalist and a Newbery Honor Book, both for good reason. On the surface it is the story of undying friendship between animals but there is much more going on. A pregnant calico cat is abandoned in the swamps of eastern Texas by her owners. She hears the howling of a hound dog and follows the sound in hopes of finding a place to have her kittens. She ends up at the home of an evil man known only as Gar Face. The dog, Ranger, protects her and her kittens in the "Underneath", the place under the porch of the tumbledown house. But they can't hide from Gar Face forever. In addition to that story, there is the magical tale of the ancient cottonmouth moccasin, her shape-shifting daughter, and the gigantic alligator who lives in the swamp. All of the story lines come together in an ending that is both horrific and bittersweet. It's the author's lush, descriptive language that makes this one a winner.

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