The Underneath

>> Monday, November 21, 2011

Author: Kathi Appelt
Recommended Age: 10 & up
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
ISBN-13: 978-1-4169-5058-5
ISBN-10: 1-4169-5058-3
Year Published: 2008
No. Pages: 311
Genre: Fantasy
Main Character Gender: Both
Read & Reviewed by: Kylee

"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."

This book begins with an abandoned cat, who hears the lonely howl of a chained-up hound deep in the bayou. She follows the hound's tunes and reaches the old shack he's tied to. She walks right up to the dog and rubs against his front legs. Ranger, the hound dog, offers to have the cat sleep underneath the wobbly old house, and promises to keep her family safe. If Gar-Face, the man who owns the shack were to discover the cat, and later the kittens, he'd use them as alligator bait. Ranger knows this, and insists they stay in the underneath. Kittens are curious and outgoing, and when one ventures out from the underneath, it sets off the book's true adventures and creates the unexpected.

Characters are insanely important to me and crucial to a first-rate novel; Appelt doesn't disappoint. She is able to create characters from the most vile to the most loveable. Even though Gar-Face is terrible, Appelt really captures his cruelty and evil nature, ensuring I hated him from the start. I didn't want to know much about him because his wickedness lived off the page. On the other hand, I loved Ranger, especially his loyalty and honesty. Ranger sings the blues in the novel and through these songs, Appelt was able to enhance and deepen his character that much more. Ranger is the hero because he never abandons the cats whereas we learn that Gar-Face's abandonment by his father contributed to his evil. This in turn helps us see one of the themes in the book, love. Gar-Face loves no one, not even himself and subsequently his evil grows and his hatred for the world increases whereas Ranger's love of the cats brings with it hope and happiness.

I also find Appelt's use of language phenomenal. All authors write differently however Appelt's voice is poetic. Her use of similes, metaphors, personification, repetition and onomatopoeias make the book come alive for me, just like a poem. These figurative language techniques created a clear movie behind my eyelids which added further to her characters. The sentences are so delicious that I read and re-read them. Appelt also weaves  magical realism into this tale in the form of a shape-shifting water snake who has laid dormant for a thousand years. This creates mystery and gives the narrator more of an ancient voice.

I rated this book a ten out of ten, and would recommend it to anyone who loves animals and figurative language. The first time I read this book it took me two days, and since then I've read it at least six more times. This is a great fantasy novel, because of the strength of the characters, their relationships and how quickly you forget the characters are animals. You, too, can easily join them in their adventures.

design by:

  © Blogger template Simple n' Sweet by 2009

Back to TOP