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Saturday, January 4, 2014

A Tale of True Friendship

The Cay by Theodore Taylor


Grade level & category:

Grades 6-8; American Literature; Setting: Caribbean, 1942, WWII;
•1969 Award of the South California Council on Literature for Children and Young People,
•1970 Jane Addams Book Award —rescinded - Taylor spoke at the 1996 ALAN (The Assembly on Literature for Adolescents) Workshop in Chicago regarding one of his awards: "In 1970, long before political correctness found itself to the American scene, I received the Jane Addams Peace and Freedom Foundation award for The Cay.  Soon after, it was accused of being a racist book. In 1975, finally submitting to great pressure from the Inter-Racial Council on Children's Books and forcing The Cay's removal from many bookshelves for four years, the Jane Addams chair lady requested that I return the award after it had hung on my office wall for five years. I did so within the hour, not dusting it off. I sent it collect."
•1970 Lewis Carroll Shelf Award
•1970 Commonwealth Club (of California) Award
•1972 Kansas William White Award
•New York Times Best Book of the Year
•School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
•Boston Globe—Horn Book Honor Book
•ALA Notable Book
•Publishers Weekly Children’s Book to Remember


 Trust, Caribbean, WWII, nature, racism, survival, courage, inner strength, African-American experience, prejudice, equality, friendship, coming of age.

Author biography:

Theodore Taylor was born in 1921, in Statesville, North Carolina and always thought of himself as strongly rooted there. He began writing at the age of thirteen, covering high school sports events for the Portsmouth, Virginia, Evening Star. Leaving home at seventeen to join the Washington, D.C. Daily News as a copyboy. Two years later he was writing radio network sports for NBC, in New York.
During World War II, he served on six different ships throughout the Caribbean, protecting the islands and gaining the experience that would later become part of his novels. In 1946, Taylor participated in Operations Crossroads, the testing of two atomic bombs at Bikini Atoll, in the Western Pacific. Out of that experience came The Bomb, story of the world’s first nuclear nomads, published autumn, 1995. The Bomb won the 1996 Scott O’Dell Award for historical fiction.
In 1955, Taylor joined Paramount Pictures as a press agent; then became a story editor, finally, associate producer. "Often exciting, often insane, film work provided opportunity to work with some interesting and unique people — Clark Gable, Henry Fonda, Frank Sinatra, Shirley MacLaine, William Holden, Steve McQueen, Charlton Heston, Raquel Welch, and others, on seventeen major pictures." Following the filming of TORA! TORA! TORA!, he turned full-time to novels, non-fiction books and screen plays.
Taylor eventually published more than 50 books. Theodore Taylor passed away on October 26, 2006, leaving behind his wife Flora, three children, several grandchildren and plenty of admiring fans.

Book summary:

The Cay, winner of 11 literary awards, including the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award, "...of which I’m the proudest, since the book was deemed worthy of being on a shelf with Alice In Wonderland...", was a Universal film presentation starring James Earl Jones. Now in print in 14 foreign countries, the story of young "Phe-leep" and old "Timothy" has passed 4,000,000 copies in publication, worldwide.
In this book, we follow the story of Phillip Enright, an 11-year-old American boy living in Curaçao with his parents during the start of WWII. When German submarines begin torpedoing oil transport ships near the island, Phillip's mother decides she and Phillip will sail back to America to remain safe.
Unfortunately, their boat is torpedoed before it leaves the Caribbean, and Phillip is stranded on a raft with a black deckhand named Timothy. Before long, Phillip goes blind from an injury suffered during the shipwreck and he must learn to rely on Timothy, a man Phillip had originally been taught to distrust because he is black.
When the two of them find a small island to wait out their rescue, Phillip learns that what is on a man's inside is much more important than the color of his skin. A striking story of prejudice overcome, friendship, sacrifice, death, grief, and coming-of-age.

In autumn, 1993, Timothy Of The Cay, prequel-sequel to the original tale of survival and prejudice was published by Harcourt Brace. The 24-year gap between the novels was caused by Taylor’s reluctance to attempt "topping himself."
Other books you might love if you love this one: Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner, Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare, Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe, Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss, Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli, The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare, Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks, Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis, and for high school, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe.

To talk about:

What is on a man's inside is much more important than what is on the outside. Talk about all the different situations to which this could apply and how we can avoid judging others. Also, consider where people may live, how they dress, their financial situation, what they look like, and what they themselves truly love and believe in.
Read 1 Samuel 16:7. But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, . . The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
Discuss how this can apply in your every day life at school, work, and home.

My favorite quote from the Book:

    Something happened to me that day on the cay. I'm not sure what it was even now, but I had begun to change.
    I said to Timothy, "I want to be your friend."
    He said softly, "Young bahss, you 'ave always been my friend."

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