The Underneath

Kathi Appelt, Author, Gabra Zackman, Read by , read by Gabra Zackman. Simon & Schuster Audio $29.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-7435-7208-8

On the page, Appelt's first novel, about abused animals and set in a Deep South swamp, reads like it might be spoken with a pronounced twang. Zackman's interpretation, however, is so mellifluous that it sounds like a lullaby. That smooth delivery strikes a discordant note with the material, a story that braids three dark narrative strands: the vodka-swilling Gar Face's battle with the 100-foot-long Alligator King; Gar Face's abused, chained hound dog's ill-fated shepherding of a mother cat and her kittens; and the thousand-year imprisonment of Grandmother Moccasin, a serpent so selfish she resents her daughter falling in love. The even-keel delivery also makes it hard to keep track as the story shifts among the myriad points of view, which include those of the villain, a family of shape-shifters, various animals and sentient trees. Appelt's stylistic choice to use repetition as a construct—“This cat, this feline, this creature he is supposed to hate...”—makes for a monotonous audio experience, and her use of words such as “goldy” (to describe sunshine) makes this disquieting book sound precious. Ages 9–12. Simultaneous release with the S&S/Atheneum hardcover. (May)

Reviewed on: 07/28/2008
Release date: 05/01/2008
Show other formats
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-1-4169-5059-2
Hardcover - 385 pages - 978-1-4104-1793-0
Paperback - 293 pages - 978-1-84738-311-2
Open Ebook - 336 pages - 978-1-4169-9858-7
Paperback - 310 pages - 978-986-216-388-7
Book - 978-0-7435-7209-5
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-60640-963-3
Hardcover - 320 pages - 978-1-4169-5058-5
Hardcover - 327 pages - 978-4-7515-2474-9
Prebound-Sewn - 313 pages - 978-1-60686-582-8
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Email Address


Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.