I recently read THE UNDERNEATH by Kathi Appelt, a book suggested for ages 10 and up. This narrative deals with tough realities of life for some animals who take turns telling the story. The harsh conditions of living in the bayou are revealed through wonderful writing which helps the reader feel empathy and concern, as the animals struggle with their living conditions. At different points in the story a single animal could be freed from the cruelty, but instead tries to help the others.
Interwoven with the story of the animals is a mysterious tale of a lamia (Grandmother Moccasin), based on the local folklore of the bayou. The magic snake also has some conflicts and problems. The story is remarkable and has a satisfying ending.
So, what is the underneath, for which the book is named? It is the space beneath a house that is built above the ground. The human character is a rough hermit back-woods type of character who has become very mean from his difficult life. Gar-Face (because of his scars) mostly stays away from people. He gets a dog, Ranger, which disappoints him so much on their first hunting trip, that he chains dog beneath the house and barely gives him enough food. A calico cat about to have kittens finds the space, and together they make a little family. The two kittens are Puck and Sabine, and all is well when they are too small to venture out into the open. The dog and three cats make a perfect family until the kitten, Puck, breaks the rule and goes to the open, setting off a series of suspenseful events. Students who love complex stories about animals will not want to put this book down. The way Kathi Appelt writes engages the reader to want to read until the story is resolved.
The questions at the end of the book deal with anthropomorphism, lamia (half-serpent and half-human), promises made by characters in the novel kept and at what cost, music's big role in the book, the theme of loss, learning from mistakes, the role of the hummingbird, and true friendships demonstrated in the story. Teachers will find the set of questions very helpful for using this book as a novel study.
For the independent reader or small group, here is my free PDF (with an answer key) to accompany the book.
Thanks to Carolyn for guest blogging today! This is a fabulous, valuable post, and it's such a bonus for her to include this fantastic freebie! Teachers, you can download this free pdf instantly! No logging in anywhere! I encourage you to visit Carolyn's Wise Owl Factory Book a Day Blog! She's got UBER awesome posts on books with supplemental materials! Click on her blog button to check it out! Don't forget to download your free pdf docs to accompany THE UNDERNEATH!!
Have a beautiful day!