Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Underneath by Kathi Appelt

I finished The Underneath today!! I began this book as a read-aloud for my 6-year-old daughter because of the cute dog and kittens on the front cover. J and I, soon concluded it was not a good story for her.Gar Face's character scared her, she did not like the Grandmother Moccasin sections and it simply confused her as to how any of the stories were connected. She liked Ranger's tale and how the cats all became part of one family. I decided to keep reading on my own. I am still struggling with how I feel about the book. I thought some of the images were beautiful. I love Ranger's story and I honestly wanted the book to just stick with that relationship. I didn't think the three stories merged enough to make it work. The Tale of Desperaux by Kate Dicamillo is, for me, a great example of various stories merging to make one great tale. Gar Face did not have any redeeming qualities and yes, he gets it in the end but it all just ties together in one quick knot. I thought the writing was repetitive and went on to long (i would have cut out a few chapters). As a school librarian my main concern is who to recommend this book to; what age group; what teacher for read-aloud. I am left wondering. Many students would love the animal aspect but be very put-off by Gar Face's treatment of animals and his swilling of every known spirit available to him. The snake, Night Song and Hawk Man thread is complicated and students have trouble traveling back and forth, back and forth so frequently. Was this bookmeant for elementary students? I am glad I read it and parts of it will stick with me; I have especially enjoyed reading the variety of comments about this book from other bloggers. There seems to be no definitive answer on this book and perhaps that is what makes an interesting tale.