Appelt, Kathi (2008). The Underneath. 313 pages. Grades 4-8.
Deep in the Bayou, three very different characters are led down paths that bring them together. An abandoned cat about to have kittens is taken in by a neglected hound who lives in the Underneath, which is under his owner's home. His owner, Gar Face, fled from his abusive and alcholic father years ago and is now obsessed with capturing the largest alligator in the bayou. Then there is Grandmother Moccassin, a shape-shifting serpent who has been asleep in a jar for the last thousand years and is ready to seek her revenge. The turn of events in the characters' lives plays an important role in the underlying message--sometimes all you need is love and friendship.