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Timothy of the Cay


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Gr 5-8-Twenty-four years after publication of The Cay (Doubleday, 1987, 1969), Taylor returns to his story of a young white boy stranded on a Caribbean island with an elderly, resourceful black man. The narrative alternates between Phillip's first-person accounts of what happened to him after his rescue, and flashbacks in the third person telling Timothy's story, starting with his childhood in St. Thomas. In The Cay, readers learned how Phillip came to be on the torpedoed ship Hato; this prequel/sequel adds depth to Timothy's character through its treatment of episodes that led up to that event. The boy's story is less revealing than the man's, and some of it has already been told and is slightly contradicted by dates in the final chapter of The Cay. Faithful in tone, dialect, and characterization to the earlier title, Timothy does not delve as deeply into the theme of the first book. Instead, while it touches on racial prejudice, its focus is more on Phillip's appreciation of his friend and guardian angel, and on the adventurous and touching yarns of the West Indian man's life at sea. Those who enjoyed the earlier book will feel as though they're meeting up with old acquaintances and learning more about them, and will see the story come full circle when Phillip returns-with his sight-to the island.-Susan Knorr, Milwaukee Public Library, WI

"Timothy's chapters sketch a murky sea of racial prejudice; readers will ache with him at his losses. Phillip's chapters, in a terse first person, depict the narrowness of his mother's world with a clarity heightened by Phillip's blindness. A journey well worth taking."--Kirkus Reviews"

`` `Tis a beautiful cay, dis cay,' Timothy had said. He was right.'' So says Phillip Enright after his first actual view of the islet on which, in The Cay , he was stranded with the old black sailor Timothy, who taught him to survive. Phillip's return to the isolated spot marks the culmination of a journey both physical and spiritual. In alternating chapters Taylor recounts the events following the blinded 12-year-old's rescue from the remote island, and chronicles Timothy's history as well. In the tradition of its predecessor, this ``prequel/sequel'' explores social and racial imbalances and draws a graceful parallel between Timothy's youthful struggle to achieve an unheard-of dream--the captaincy of his own boat--and Philip's courage in choosing to undergo a risky operation to restore his vision. At times, the author seems to apologize for Timothy's illiteracy, his stubbornness and his belief in the spirits called jumbis , which seems unnecessary, given the character's obvious dignity and deep-rooted wisdom. Somewhat more thoughtful than its well-loved antecedent, this boldly drawn novel is no less commanding. Ages 10-14. (Sept.)

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