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There is nothing lonelier than a cat who has been loved, at least for a while, and then abandoned on the side of the road.
A calico cat, about to have kittens, hears the lonely howl of a chained-up hound deep in the backwaters of the bayou. She dares to find him in the forest, and the hound dares to befriend this cat, this feline, this creature he is supposed to hate. They are an unlikely pair, about to become an unlikely family. Ranger urges the cat to hide underneath the porch, to raise her kittens there because Gar-Face, the man living inside the house, will surely use them as alligator bait should he find them. But they are safe in the Underneath...as long as they stay in the Underneath.
Kittens, however, are notoriously curious creatures. And one kitten's one moment of curiosity sets off a chain of events that is astonishing, remarkable, and enormous in its meaning. For everyone who loves Sounder, Shiloh, and The Yearling, for everyone who loves the haunting beauty of writers such as Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Flannery O'Connor, and Carson McCullers, Kathi Appelt spins a harrowing yet keenly sweet tale about the power of love -- and its opposite, hate -- the fragility of happiness and the importance of making good on your promises.
the soft sand. She took a deep breath and looked below, into the tumbling gray water. Along the banks she saw the red clay, the same clay that had offered itself up to make the jar. Her birthday jar. She looked at it, at the strong sweep of its curves, the certainty of its design, the beauty of its etching, the etching of Grandmother Moccasin. Once more she heard her father call. Call for her mother. Wrong was everywhere. In the sand beneath the jar. On the surface of the water. Amid the
creek on that night a thousand years ago, Hawk Man went wild with hope. He clung to it like a spider to a web. He was desperate with it. Hope that he was mistaken, that he had misread the terrible tracks in the sand. Hope, bright and slippery, wrapped itself around him. His daughter, the little girl who glimmered, watched him walk back and forth along the banks of the creek, his feet pounding the red shore, hope urging him on. She listened as he called Night Song’s name, called it over and over,
hear. That was all she would ever hear. She did not hear Grandmother calling to her. Sing, my daughter, sing! Did not hear her at all. Despite Grandmother’s desperate pleas for Night Song to eat and swim and sing, the smaller snake remained coiled in the branch, listening only to the two voices she loved so well, listening to them over and over, swirling through her brain, through every diamond scale. How long did Night Song stay there, losing her color, and listening only to two invisible
was only yesterday, that day when he had strained against the chain, pulled at it so hard, cried so long and so hard that his throat became tattered and raw, too raw to sing, to yelp, to bark. Like it was only yesterday since he had uttered anything beyond a whisper to Sabine, or beyond a coarse rasp when the steel-toed boot met his sore ribs. No more than that, a whisper or a rasp, had come from Ranger in all that time. But when he saw Gar Face lift up his one and only Sabine, the one he loved
she slipped across the old quicksand pit. Another creature might get sucked into it, but not Grandmother. She passed over it so fast that the shivering sands didn’t have time to grab her. At last she arrived at the edge of the large bayou, where she wrapped her sinewy body around an old cypress tree and pulled herself out onto a huge limb that hung over the water. Below, she saw the familiar bubbles rising to the surface. “Sister!” The alligator rose to the top. She could see that he had grown