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Transcript of The Underneath
One day, the calico cat delivers her babies under the porch, which Ranger and the calico cat call ‘the Underneath’. Two kittens, a female and a male, who Ranger names Puck and Sabine, are born. Like any other babies, Puck and Sabine grow up quickly. Every day, Ranger and their mom warn them about the outside. “Stay in the Underneath. You’ll be safe in the Underneath.” The calico cat and Ranger said this to Puck and Sabine everyday.
But young kittens like to explore, and Puck and Sabine have lived their whole lives in the underneath. When one kitten decides to break that rule and explore the dangerous world outside, it will take courage, skill, and a promise to make it back.
This book is about 3 different stories that intertwine. The first two are together, and are the main story in the book, but the third one stands alone. The stories all take place in the swampy darkness of Louisiana bayou. A loved small and pregnant calico cat has been abandoned on the streets by her owner. She walks for many days and many nights through the forest. One morning, she wakes up to the sound of a baying hound nearby. She follows the sound of the hound until she finally arrives. She sees an old house, with all its features very old, and almost breaking off. She walks around the corner, and there he is. The old hound that was singing, and crying for help. He is chained to the corner of the house’s back porch, eyes closed. The small calico cat should be afraid. Hounds are a natural enemy to cats. But she just walks up to him, not afraid, and rubs against his front legs. Ranger and this female calico cat are an unlikely pair, about to become an unlikely family.
They also warn them about Ranger’s cruel owner, Gar face. Gar face is named this way of the way he was treated as a child. He was treated rudely, and viciously. This is the reason he treats Ranger so badly, and chains him up. His broken face now resembles the prehistoric fish, half alligator, and half fish. A Gar. At the same time in the story, while Ranger is still chained up, Gar Face tries to hunt down the Alligator King that lives at the bottom of the swamp.
The third story in the book is about Grandma Moccasin. She is a creature that has been trapped in a jar for over thousands of years. She is a dangerous and threatening character in the book, full of sadness and abandonment, while waiting for revenge.
Meet the Author
I think this book is suitable for children aged 10-12. But adults will enjoy this book as well. It is a chapter book, but it includes some pictures, drawn by David Small. I recommend this book because I have read it, and I really enjoyed it. I really like this book because it is different than all of the other books I have read, and it stands out from all the others. It included many different stories in one book, all intertwined. It was also written in third person, and I had never read a book that had been written in that point of view. I was recommended this book by a friend and now I would like to recommend it to you. We both enjoyed it, and I think you will too.
When I read a part of this book, it really reminded me of a book entitled “Hatchet”, by Gary Paulson. It reminded me of this book because in that book, the main character has to survive in the wilderness with nothing but a hatchet, to find his way back home. In the Underneath, during a part in the book, a character also has to survive in the wilderness, in order to make it back home as well.
This book also reminded me of “Charlotte’s Web”, by E.B White. It reminded me of this book because in Charlotte’s web, the animals in the novel all helped each other out when they needed help. In the Underneath, because Ranger is chained up and doesn’t get food often, the calico cat goes out of the safety of the Underneath and finds her ‘family’ food. Ranger protects her kittens, Puck and Sabine, while she looks for food, so everybody helps each other out.
by Kathi Appelt
with drawings by David Small
Book Talk by Rachel Chiang
Kathi Appelt is the author of this novel. She was born on July 6th, 1954 in Fayetteville, North Carolina. She is 59 years old. Kathi is the author of over 30 books for children and young adults. Some genres of books that she writes are fantasy, poetry, and some biographies. Her first novel, which was this novel, The Underneath, won the Newberry honour medal, the USA literary award for children’s literature, and was the national book award finalist. Some of Kathi’s other books and novels include “The Thunderherd”, “The Keeper”, and “I See the Moon”.
Other Author's Opinions
Here are some author's opinions on this book.
"A mysterious and magical story; poetic yet loaded with suspence."
–Louis Sacher, Newberry Medal-Winning Author of
"The Underneath is as enchanting as a hummingbird, as magical as the clouds." –Cynthia Kadohata, Newberry Medal-Winning Author of
"Rarely do I come across a book that makes me catch my breath, that reminds me of why I wanted to be a writer......A Classic." –Alison McGhee, author of the
New York Times