Kathi Appelt is the author of the Newbery Honoree, National Book
Award finalist, PEN USA Literary Award-winning, and bestselling
The Underneath as well as the National Book Award finalist
The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp, Maybe a Fox
(with Alison McGhee), Keeper, and many picture books
including Counting Crows and Max Attacks. She has two
grown children and lives in College Station, Texas, with her
husband. Visit her at KathiAppelt.com.
Gabra Zackman knows romance. Her clever and "thrilling romantic caper" (Library Journal) Bod Squad series was inspired by the more than one hundred romance and women's fiction titles she has narrated for audio. She divides her time between her native New York City and Denver, Colorado.
Gr 4-8-Appelt brings Southern Gothic to the middle grade set. Three separate but eventually entwined stories are told piecemeal. There is the tale of an abandoned, pregnant calico cat who finds shelter and friendship with the bloodhound, Ranger. He is the abused and neglected pet of Gar Face, a broken-jawed recluse who lives in the Texas bayou, where he fled 25 years previously to escape an abusive father. And finally there is the story of Grandmother Moccasin, a shape-shifting water snake who has lain dormant in a jar for a thousand years, buried beneath a loblolly pine tree. The threads are brought together when Puck, one of the newborn kittens, breaks the rule of straying from the safety of The Underneath, the sliver of space beneath Gar Face's porch where Ranger is chained and the cats live. The pace of this book is meandering, and there is a clear effort by the dominant third-person narrator to create a lyrical, ancient tone. However, the constant shift of focus from one story line to the next is distracting and often leads to lost threads. Small's black-and-white illustrations add a certain languid moodiness to the text. Themes of betrayal, hope, and love are reflected in the three stories, but this is a leisurely, often discouraging journey to what is ultimately an appropriate ending.-Kara Schaff Dean, Walpole Public Library, MA Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
"A mysterious and magical story; poetic yet loaded with suspense."
-- Louis Sachar, Newbery Medal-winning author of Holes
"The Underneath is as enchanting as a hummingbird, as magical as the clouds." -- Cynthia Kadohata, Newbery Medal-winning author of Kira-Kira
"Rarely do I come across a book that makes me catch my breath, that reminds me why I wanted to be a writer -- to make of life something beautiful, something enduring. The Underneath is a book of ancient themes -- love and loss and betrayal and redemption -- woven together in language both timeless and spellbinding. A classic." -- Alison McGhee, author of the New York Times bestselling Someday
"Kathi Appelt's novel, The Underneath, reads like a ballad sung." -- Ashley Bryan, Hans Christian Anderson Award Nominee and Three-Time Coretta Scott King Award Medalist