Friday, December 8, 2017

The Cay and Timothy of the Cay by Theodore Taylor

The Cay and Timothy of the Cay by Theodore Taylor are set during WWII in the Caribbean Sea. The Cay was first published in 1969 during a time of great cultural strife in the USA. I listened to the audio version of this book, and the narration by Michael Boatman was wonderful. At the end of the narration, they had an interview with Taylor and it was fun to hear in his own voice and words how this story came about.

He was inspired to write this story after learning about German subs attacking off of the Caribbean. He learned about a Dutch ship that was attacked and sunk and a young Dutch boy who was seen on a raft after the attack. He thought about this missing boy for eleven years before he wrote a story about it.

In this historical fiction, Phillip and his mother are Americans who along with his father live on the island of Curacao. As German attacks get more frequent, his father sends them on a ship to return to the USA, but their ship is attacked by a German submarine. After the ship sinks, an injured Phillip finds himself on a raft with the "blackest man he's ever seen".  Phillip's mother has warned him about black people: "They are different, and they life differently." Phillip loses his eyesight, and has to rely on Timothy for survival. They find their way to a small island, and a blind Phillip must learn from Timothy how to navigate his small world in order to stay alive.

The character Timothy was patterned after a man that Taylor knew named Robert - he only had one name. Robert knew more about the sea than anyone Taylor ever knew. He picked him to the be the rescuer of Phillip and named him Timothy.

This story is powerful and shows that in allowing ourselves to really know the "other" we deepen our love and understanding for all in the world and come to understand our own self even more. I loved the changes in the characters in this story. The story is a fast paced 137 page novel with large text and a lot of white space making it perfect to introduce a younger reader to civil rights, WWII,  prejudices, and true friendship.

Timothy of the Cay picks right up where The Cay ended, only it shares Timothy's life from the time he was a boy. This story alternates between Philip trying to regain his sight and Timothy sharing his life story. We learn why it was so important to Timothy to save Phillip.

This book is good because it is a little longer at 161 pages, and although it has a lot of white space, the text size is a bit smaller than The Cay, which is a natural progression from one book to the next.

Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

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