Thursday, December 17, 2009

Underneath the Christmas Tree

I still don't have my very own copy of my favorite book for the last two years -- because I keep giving it away. When I finished reading it the first time, I knew it would be considered for major awards. And it was. It was a Newbery Honor Book and a National Book Award finalist. That's pretty good consideration, don't you think? Maybe Santa will put this under my tree--again.

THE UNDERNEATH by Kathi Appelt with drawings by Ben Small.
When the author was interviewed during the National Book Award festivities, she said she hoped the reader would realize there is always a choice between good and evil. Both protagonist and antagonist must choose. When their lives, like threads, cross each other, tangle each other, and unravel at the last possible minute, what is left? Is it good or evil?

The writer’s magic pulls the reader deeper and deeper into a swamp of intrigue. How does a boy grow up to be an evil man? Is there any possibility of backtracking, becoming that boy again? Can natural enemies build a warm and loving family? Can loyalty triumph over terrible and tremendous odds? And what about revenge? Who should seek it? Who should take it? Can it be used for good?

This is a story that will stay with the reader--even if the book keeps changing hands.

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