Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Underneath - Kathi Appelt

The Underneath by Kathi Appelt
New books come into the bookstore all the time. For some unknown reason I am drawn to some. Every time I turn around the book is there waiting. The Underneath by Appelt was one those books, it would not be ignored. Finally giving into the urge I picked it up. I am a sucker for good blurbs. The Underneath has a few including one by award winning author/illustrator Ashley Bryan. Bryan doesn't blurb much, so I knew The Underneath had to be special and it was.
The Underneath is magical and beautiful story. It's a tale of many things, set in the deep deep Southern Bayou. The past and present are told until they eventually collide. The tale begins with a calico cat who has been abandoned. Now she wanders alone for a safe place to have her kittens. From the beginning Applet's writing is poetic, she quickly pulls the reader in. The calico cat is drawn to a hound's song.

Oh, I woke up on this bayou
Got a chain around my heart.
Yes, I'm sitting on this bayou,
Got a chain tied round my heart.
Can't you see I'm dying?
Can't you see I'm cryin?
Can't you throw an old dog a bone?
Oh I woke up it was rainin
But it was tears came fallin down
Can't you see I'm tryin
Can't you hear my cryin?
Can't you see I'm all alone?
Can't you throw an old dog a bone?

That was only chapter three. Applet gives us so much more. After hearing that song the calico cat seeks out the hound, Ranger. She finds him forever chained to a back porch. The calico decides to stay and have her kittens. This is a small part of a wonderful tale. It's also about love, hate, consequences, forgiveness, revenge, basically all the emotions that fuel or eat away at us.
Applet's writing is beautiful and colorful. She weaves a tale that should be read and will be loved.

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