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The Underneath  By  cover art

The Underneath

By: Kathi Appelt
Narrated by: Gabra Zackman
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Publisher's Summary

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.

An abandoned calico cat, about to have kittens, hears the achingly lonely howl of a chained up, abused hound dog deep in 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 Sabine and Puck there because Gar-Face, the man living inside the house, will surely use her or her kittens 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.

In the tradition of 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), the fragility of happiness - and the importance of making good on your promises.

©2008 Kathi Appelt (P)2008 Simon and Schuster, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"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)

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What listeners say about The Underneath

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

dark and intense

Be prepared for a story with a lot of dark issues-- irredeemably bad characters, violence against animals and children. The story is beautifully told, but I think readers benefit from being prepared for the ride.

The narration of this rendition is fantastic! Wonderful pacing, clear articulation, and captures the essence of the book with her character voices and inflection. I was able to understand every word while driving in a car with the windows open!

3 people found this helpful

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inappropriate for children

This book is about an alcoholic that beats starves and abuses his dog. there are several deaths that take place during this story. the alcoholic puts a cat and her kitten in a bag and throws it in a river. This book is supposed to be for 4th and 5th graders and I believe that it is entirely inappropriate for that age level.

2 people found this helpful

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read before your child

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

I read this book before I was planning on giving it to a reading group of 5th graders. I just thought there was SO much negativity in the book...just a bit much I guess. Maybe I'm just in the holiday spirit and this book definitely was a bit of a "downer!"

What about Gabra Zackman’s performance did you like?

great voices

1 person found this helpful

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Sensational, Unpredictable Love Story

My heart twisted and turned and grew and ached for the dog, the cat, her kittens, the grandmother snake and her daughter. Even the grandmothers soured heart had room for love after a thousand years! Listen to this it will change how you see life!

1 person found this helpful

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speak like a southerner

I struggled to finish it due to the lady reading it. The word is bye-you, not by-yo?!!!! for a speech therapist, that was so distracting. couldn't find a LA native to read it??

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Love this book

I had already read this book and was just refreshing my memory with the audio book and I still love it. It has dark themes but I genuinely enjoy the writing!

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very lovely story, didn't know it was for a child

loved it from start to finish, its hard to believe all the pain and suffering that went on, it was very sad at times and I almost didn't want to listen. I wouldn't expect a child to grapse the whole thing.

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A Masterful Story

Marketed for older children, I didn't read it until I was half a century old. I am so glad I did. I encourage you to push on past the confusion of the thousand year old mystery. It will not necessarily become clear, but it will be worth it, I promise. If you wish to introduce your children to truly great literature, but they just love stories about puppies and kittens, THIS is your answer. With strong themes of love, courage, guilt, determination, ambition, and the various effects of trauma, this beautifully told story, in all of its layers, will linger with you long after the book itself is finished.

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Beautifully written story

Appelt has written a story that is musical and poetic. Her craft and carefully chosen words caught me time and again throughout this story. Equally masterful was her weaving of the plot lines in such a way that, as a reader, I was always on the edge of my seat- anticipating what would happen to the various characters. This is a story filled with all the feeling and conflict that has existed since time began: love, loneliness, revenge, betrayal, friendship, wonder, sacrifice, and fear. Zackman's masterful performance matches the excellence of Appelt's story making this a stand-out audiobook for those who love a good tale and the beauty of words well written!

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Brilliantly eerie, full of loneliness and love

Appelt has created a masterpiece, a beautiful mixture of fear, heartbreak, and love. Characters are absolutely amazing and woven together in relationships common to all of us but also unique to the story.