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The Underneath by Kathi Appelt

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Every once in a while, we come across a novel with the grace and beauty of a poem; with each sentence, phrase, and word flowing across the pages like the warm flow of water trickling along a river. Author Kathi Appelt's debut novel 'The Underneath' was so; with its beautifully poetic wording and enchanting tale. From the very first page, I found myself drawn into the magical and mysteriously suspenseful world of 'The Underneath'.

A small calico cat, about to have kittens, walks across an old forgotten forest in loneliness. The loneliness hurts more for she knows what it is like to be loved then abandoned. While she is in the forest, she hears the lonely blue song of a chained-up hound in the midst of the woods of Bayou. Their loneliness is what binds them together into an unlikely couple and soon, into an inseparable family. Ranger the hound continually urges the calico cat to grow her kittens underneath the porch for many dangers lurk above. The owner of the old creaky house, Gar-Face, is hungry for the admiration of others and will do anything to catch the ancient old alligator that will bring him his dark desires. The kittens will be safe from Gar-Face, who is now in search for alligator bait, as long as they stay in the underneath. But one of the kittens, out of curiosity, takes a step out of its safe world and that one step sets off a ravel of extraordinary events.

Through the eyes of various of creatures, Appelt puts her readers into the shoes of the characters in the most natural way- not just as someone in the background but as a part of the story. The pain and emptiness of revenge, loss, betrayal, and loneliness, along with the peace that comes from forgiveness, love, and family is all portrayed in this amazing novel.

Though one could say this book was written especially for children, I would recommend this book to anyone- from elementary schoolers to adults of all ages. With its poetic and suspenseful story-telling, along with the strong message that rings clear throughout the novel, this book is a must-read. If you'd like to hear a witty yet heart-warming tale of the most unlikely, yet natural family of a hound and its kittens, go ahead and open your way into the world of 'The Underneath'. You won't regret it.



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