Book Review – The Underneath by Kathi Appelt

The Underneath by Kathi Appelt, Drawings by David Small (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2008).

 Poetic thread by poetic thread, Kathi Appelt weaves a spellbinding tale of hatred and love, pain and loss, fear and redemption. This was a re-read for me, as I couldn’t take it all in the first time around. For someone like me, who cannot bear the sight of a squashed squirrel in the street, it took the lull of Kathi’s mesmerizing prose to lure me into the story—and then, as though caught in quicksand, I was trapped within the tapestry of this mythical tale, along with Gar Face, Ranger, Grandmother, the Alligator King and the kittens. A rare and beautiful read—a classic.

David Small’s masterful illustrations offer a spare and sensitive counterpoint to the lush, descriptive prose.