|Newbery Honor Book
Appelt, K. (2008). The underneath. New York, NY: Antheneum Books for Young Readers.
This is quite the book! From reading the jacket-flap summary, it is not at all what I expected. There are two stories going on through alternating chapters. As the plot moves along, we can start to see them coming together. It is quite ingenious really. One story involves a mean owner, a dog, a cat and her twins. The mama cat and her kitten must live "underneath" the porch to avoid the mean owner, Gar-Face. The other storyline took me by surprise and I thought it was bizarre. It includes Grandma Moccasin, her daughter, an alligator king and hawk man, all from the ancient world. This is more of a mythological/fantasy story with some of the characters changing from one type of being to the other. This book was really dark at times and uplifting at other times. The relationships between the animals were as sweet as Charlotte's Web and as heartbreaking as Old Yeller. I found it hard to switch my brain from what seemed like the two extremes of this book. When it all came together, I think I liked it. I was so undecided, I thought I would read some reviews and they are definitely mixed. I do think it is beautifully and artfully written. Maybe it calls for a certain type of audience to love it because some people really loved it. It is a multiple award winner too. I also think it is probably for a little bit older reader than what is recommended.