One of the Newbery Honor Winners of 2009, The Underneath tells a rare story that will appeal to readers old and young alike. If you enjoy dog stories such as Because of Winn-Dixie and Shiloh you will enjoy The Underneath. The language is poetic and if you like to read of swamps and bayous and chocolate water, and Piney woods that are “wet and steamy,” with a few shape-changers thrown in, then The Underneath will appeal!
Serving as the backdrop to the story are the swamps of the River Sabine that divide Texas and Louisiana. The story tells of Ranger, the bloodhound chained for years to the underneath of his owner Gar Face’s house and of his extraordinary friendship with a Calico Cat and her two kittens Sabine and Puck. Other stories are skillfully interwoven; there is the story of Mother Moccasin, the creature clothed in serpent-shape, waiting to break free from her one thousand years of imprisonment, and the story of other shape changers – Hawkman and Nightsone, and their shimmering daughter the hummingbird.
Finally, it is the story of Gar Face, the sad and lonely alligator hunter and his miserable, cruel life. Gar Face pursues Alligator King, the one hundred foot gator living in the creeks of the River Savine…waiting, waiting…
The Underneath reads like realistic fiction mostly, except where it is interwoven with shape changers. It will make a good read-aloud for Fourth Grade and up, and can be recommended to both children and adults who like reading about animals.
Check the WRL catalog for The Underneath