February 28th, 2008

working cat

What a Texas treasure

I have always loved Kathi Appelt. Her books, too. And this one, well, it just is one of those perfect books: joy, sorrow, fear, longing, absolution, mystery, magic, and CATS. Sabine and Puck are born in The Underneath. Their mother, a beautiful calico cat left abandoned on the side of the road, found this shelter one night when she followed the baying of the hound known as Ranger. Sabine and Puck live under the sagging and rotting porch with Ranger and their mother. They are warned never to leave The Underneath. Exposure risks discovery by Gar Face, the horrid man who keeps Ranger chained and forgets to feed him most of the time. But one day the sun beckons and Puck cannot resist. When his mother comes to rescue him, the two of them are snatched by Gar Face who throws them into a burlap bag and heads to the waters of the bayou.

But this is more than a story of a family of cats and an old bloodhound. There is the sinister Grandmother, locked for so many years inside a clay pot and buried in the tree roots. Don't forget the ancient alligator now grown to enormous size who trawls the waters Gar Face knows well. And the hummingbird, harbinger of transition. Appelt has crafted a story that is mystical, eternal, and unforgettable. Her prose sings, echoing the songs of Ranger, of Night Song, of the forest inhabitants.

Thanks, Kathi, for making a reader feel the strength of the ancient magic and the pull of magical words.
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