Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Underneath

by Kathi Appelt
New York : Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2008.

Several stories strand together in this poetic tale. An abandoned, pregnant cat takes refuge with a lonely hound. A drunk called Gar Face - the owner of the hound - goes hunting daily and becomes obsessed with a huge alligator. A snake trapped in a jar under an old pine tree bides her time waiting for... what?

I started listening to this on audio, and while I liked the reader, I soon realized that the tone of the story was too contemplative for me to listen well and pay attention. Yet the story is meant to be read aloud. The sound of the words and phrases and sentences (and sentence fragments) beg for listening. It's the sort of book that a child might have to be begged to read, but a good reader could have them sitting spell-bound as the various story lines are revealed and eventually come together in a taut climax.

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