The Underneath

 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
318 0
The Underneath
Author(s)
Age Range
10+
Release Date
May 06, 2008
ISBN
978-1416950592
Buy This Book
      
A 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 Underneath...as long as they stay in the Underneath.

Kittens, 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.

Editor reviews

1 reviews

10th Anniversary of Classic
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
4.0
A pregnant cat is abandoned by her family and lost in the wilds of the South. Lonely and afraid, she is drawn to the baying song of a hound dog, who is also lonely. Ranger lives with Gar Face, a cruel and abusive man who was himself mistreated as a child. Ranger is chained in the yard, has been shot in the leg, and is given a minimal amount of care. He wants to take care of the mother cat, so advises her to remain "underneath" the porch of the house. There, she gives birth two her kittens, whom she and Ranger name Puck and Sabine. Both older animals are glad of the companionship, and delight in the exploits of the kittens, but warn them that it is dangerous outside the underneath, and they should never go out. Of course, one day Puck can't help himself, but his appearance angers Gar Face, who takes him and his mother, puts them in a burlap bag, and throws them in the water. Only Puck survives, and since his mother has made him promise to release Ranger from his chains and look after Sabine, he makes his weary way back to the pair, who are trying to survive on their own and avoid Gar Face at all costs.

In an alternating story line, we have a folkloric Caddo tale about a serpent, Grandmother Moccasin, who has been imprisoned because of events in her past. She is poised to escape and put these events to rights, and her story intersects with that of the animals in a poignant way.

This lyrical, atmospheric story is celebrating its tenth year in publication, and was a Newbery Medal Nominee (2009) and National Book Award Finalist for Young People's Literature (2008). It is a compelling story about friendship and the importance of keeping promises, and is unflinching in its portrayal of Gar Face's evil and inhumanity.

Readers who find books about animals in adverse circumstances, such as Lee's Dog Lost and Cat Found, Naylor's Shiloh, and especially Rawl's Where the Red Fern Grows will be drawn to the pathos of the cats and dog in adverse circumstances trying their best to have a decent life. The details of hunting small animals, avoiding dangers, and, most of all, providing an emotionally supportive community for each other are heart wrenching but hopeful.

While many teachers and parents read this book with elementary school children, those ages will benefit from the support the adults can give in understanding the story. Older students will be better able to process the difficult scenes on their own.

David Small's illustrations add another level of bittersweetness to this classic novel of friendship and integrity in the face of overwhelming odds.
Report this review Comments (0) | Was this review helpful to you? 0 0

User reviews

There are no user reviews for this listing.
Already have an account? or Create an account
Powered by JReviews

FEATURED GIVEAWAYS

Latest Book Listings Added

My Funny Bunny
 
3.0
 
0.0 (0)
When a boy receives a gift box from his uncle...
Kindness Rules! (A Hello!Lucky Book)
 
4.5
 
0.0 (0)
Manners don’t come naturally to everyone! But did you know...
Teeny Tiny Ghost
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
An adorable spooky twist on "The Teeny Tiny Woman" that's...
A Pumpkin for Peter: A Peter Rabbit Tale
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Hop into the world of Peter Rabbit and his friends...
Solving for M
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Perfect for fans of Raymie Nightingale and The Fourteenth Goldfish,...
A Parade of Elephants
 
4.5
 
0.0 (0)
New York Times–bestselling and Caldecott Medalist Kevin Henkes follows five...
My Fate According To The Butterfly
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
When superstitious Sab sees a giant black butterfly, an omen...
The Rough Patch
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
A Caldecott Honor Book An...
Sunny's Tow Truck Saves the Day!
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
When a family car gets a flat on the way...
How to Be a Cat
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
In cut-paper artist Nikki McClure’s latest picture book, a kitten...
TBH, IDK What's Next (TBH, #4)
 
4.5
 
0.0 (0)
Three BFFs set out to have the BEST SUMMER EVER...
Finding Esme
 
3.3
 
0.0 (0)
Twelve-year-old Esme’s life changes when she discovers dinosaur bones on...
Five Little Pumpkins on Halloween Night
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Join these happy pumpkins in a cheerful rhyming countdown, in...
Wreck: A Novel
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
Set on the shores of Lake Superior, Wreck follows high...
The Madman of Piney Woods
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Benji and Red couldn't be more different. They aren't friends....
Wintercake
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
This cozy, gently humorous, and irresistible holiday tale from Newbery...

Latest Member Reviews

My Funny Bunny
 
3.0
"MY FUNNY BUNNY is about dealing with disappointments and not judging others too quickly. It's the main character's sixth birthday,..."
Kindness Rules! (A Hello!Lucky Book)
 
4.5
"KINDNESS RULES! is a fun new manners book, perfect for preschoolers. Magic Manners, an elephant who knows her stuff, teaches..."
Teeny Tiny Ghost
 
5.0
"Be prepared to fall in love with the tenacious TEENY TINY GHOST in this sweet book, perfect for Halloween. The..."
Solving for M
 
5.0
"SOLVING FOR M is a beautiful and enthralling middle grade novel about finding your way in a new school and..."
A Pumpkin for Peter: A Peter Rabbit Tale
 
5.0
"A PUMPKIN FOR PETER tells the story of when Peter Rabbit went with his mother and sisters to go pick..."
A Parade of Elephants
 
4.5
"Five elephants march along the pages of Kevin Henkes's picture book, A PARADE OF ELEPHANTS. As they make their way..."
My Fate According To The Butterfly
 
5.0
"My Fate According to the Butterfly is probably the first Middle Grade novel I’ve read in a very long time...."
The Rough Patch
 
5.0
"In THE ROUGH PATCH, Evan's best friend is his dog, and they do everything together. Author and illustrator Brian Lies..."
How to Be a Cat
 
5.0
"HOW TO BE A CAT is an elegant book of verbs. Two cats give actions throughout their day, including scratch,..."
Sunny's Tow Truck Saves the Day!
 
5.0
"SUNNY'S TOW TRUCK SAVES THE DAY! is a delightful picture book about a family on their way to picnic who..."
TBH, IDK What's Next (TBH, #4)
 
4.5
"TBH, IDK WHAT'S NEXT follows four best friends over their summer before seventh grade. They are all determined to have..."
Five Little Pumpkins on Halloween Night
 
5.0
"FIVE LITTLE PUMPKINS ON HALLOWEEN NIGHT is a cute board book that celebrates Halloween with a counting of pumpkins! In..."
The Madman of Piney Woods
 
4.0
"THE MADMAN OF PINEY WOODS follows two young boys in Canada as their lives are changing and intersecting. Benji Alston..."
Wintercake
 
4.0
"WINTERCAKE is a lovely picture book that celebrates friendship and the holiday spirit. Thomas is about to make a wintercake..."
Roar Like a Dandelion
 
4.0
"A unique alphabet book, ROAR LIKE A DANDELION is filled with instructional that are sure to spark some giggles. Each..."
The Bear and the Star
 
4.5
"THE BEAR AND THE STAR is an elegant, Christmas-style book. Bear knows that it is time and so he finds..."
I Do Not Like That Name
 
4.0
"I DO NOT LIKE THAT NAME features a girl, Sophie, and her rabbit, Herb, as they order an elephant from..."
The Love Letter
 
5.0
"Lovely, endearing, and heartfelt, THE LOVE LETTER demonstrates the power of telling someone how much you care. Hedgehog, Bunny, and..."
The Wobbly Waitress
 
3.5
"THE WOBBLY WAITRESS is a silly read that will make young children giggle. Mabel is a giraffe waitress at the..."
At the Firehouse (A Tinyville Town Book)
 
4.0
"AT THE FIREHOUSE is a cute board book that explores firefighting from inside the firehouse. It is the weekend in..."