The Underneath by Kathi Appelt is an amazing story! As soon as I felt that book in my hands, it FELT like a Newbery. I can’t really explain what that means, but sometimes you can just tell. I have thought that a few other times in the past and been right (kind of) with Elijah of Buxton (runner up) and wrong (Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane).
Currently it is the Best Book I Have Read (at least in a while). I put off reading it at first after seeing the animals under the porch in the cover illustration and reading some review that mentioned The Yearling. I don’t particularly like books that make me cry, and this one did that all right. What a story! I love books that have interwoven stories (Walk Two Moons, Pictures of Hollis Woods) and I was so focused at first on trying to figure out what was going to be sad, that I didn’t pay enough attention to the second story of “the underneath”. I found the story of Grandmother Moccasin and the Alligator King fascinating and well done. I do think it would make a good read aloud so that a teacher can “think aloud” about the two different story lines. Pictures of Hollis Woodswould appear to be a pretty easy read for good fourth grade readers, but the two different story lines confused many a student over the years, and it even has the two different typefaces as a visual hint to get ready for the next part of the story. Gar Face is one disturbed human that is creepy and evil. It doesn’t allow much room for sympathy for GarFace. I’m guessing that there are some readers who will object to the allusion to GarFace being such an evil person, even as a youth, that his mother left.
What an amazing book!
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