Q & A with Kathi Appelt: UNDERNEATH

the_underneath_appelt_smallI am thrilled to invite Kathi Appelt, author and VCFA faculty advisor extraordinaire to Dog Reads! Let’s welcome Kathi!

What is the title of your book? Pub date and publisher?

*THE UNDERNEATH, 2008, Atheneum

Who is your key dog character? Tell us about him/her.

*Ranger is a bloodhound, a hunting dog by nature.  He’s old and weary.  He’s been chained to a post for many years by his cruel master, known only as Gar Face.

In 70 words or less, provide a succinct plot description of your story.

* A calico cat finds Ranger, a dog who has been chained to a post for too long to remember. Ranger urges the cat and her kittens to hide underneath the porch because otherwise Gar-Face, the man inside the house, will surely use them as alligator bait. Kittens, however, are notoriously curious creatures. And one kitten’s curiosity sets off a remarkable chain of events.

Starred reviews/blurbs or link you wish to share:

*National Book Award Honor

Newbery Honor


Starred review in “Booklist”

What inspired you to write this story?

*When I was around nine or ten years old, we had a large, dog named Sam.  One day a small calico cat wandered into his territory and they became great friends.  A month or so later, the cat delivered a batch of kittens and Sam “adopted” them.  I’ve never forgotten his generosity, especially when the mother cat was killed by a car.  Sam took over in kitten care.  He was a wonderful stepfather.

What was the biggest challenge you had writing your story? How did you overcome it?

*The hardest thing for me was believing that I could actually write a novel.  I had written many other things—picture books, poetry, short stories, even a memoir.  But extended prose has always been difficult for me.  One morning, in a conversation with Tobin Anderson, he said, “You should always write what you think you can’t.”  For some reason, that helped me to see that failure was completely possible and even likely.  So, what did I have to lose?  Might as well writed the darned thing.  And that’s what I did.

imagesWhat other YA/MG books have you written? Do any of them feature a key dog character? If so, which ones? What are these stories about?

*KEEPER (2010, Atheneum) features two dog characters,B.D. and Too.  B.D. stands for Best Dog.  Too’s name comes from Best Dog Too.  KEEPER is about a girl who believes that her real mother is a mermaid and so she sets out in a small boat in the Gulf of Mexico, with her trusty B.D., to find that mother.

What kind of story can we expect next from you? Is it about a dog? If so, what is it about?

*My next novel is called THE TRUE BLUE SCOUTS OF SUGAR MAN SWAMP. It’s due out in July, 2013.  There are no dogs, but there are raccoons, and a cat named Sweetums.

I do have a picture book about a dog that is due out in 2014.  It’s about the very real dog, Mogie, who lives at the Ronald McDonald House in Houston. It’ll be illustrated by Marc Rosenthal. The title is MOGIE, THE HEART OF THE HOUSE (2014, Atheneum).

I also have a picture book called BEFORE AND AFTER OTIS, that features coyotes.  That is also due out in 2014 and will be illustrated by Jill McMurry (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).

images-1What else would you like us to know about you or your story?

* Well, I like dogs.  I grew up with dogs.  But these days, I’m a cat person.  My husband and I are owned by four gifted and talented cats:  Jazz, Hoss, Peach, and D’jango.

Can you remember the first book that made an impact on you? And why?

* BLACK BEAUTY, by Anna Sewell.  I loved that book because I loved horses.



To learn more about Kathi Appelt and to find more of her books, click here.

Thank you so much for joining us today, Kathi Appelt. 



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