book report: The Cay by Theodore Taylor

My wife picked out an excellent children's book on CD for our drive to Lake George, The Cay by Theodore Taylor. It's set in WW2 in the Dutch Caribbean. The narrator is an American boy whose mother takes him by ship to escape the danger of the German U-boats prowling the waters keeping the oil tankers from helping the allies. Of course, this is bad, and their own boat is sunk. The boy, Philip, ends up on a life raft with an old islander, Timothy. As his frustration grows Philip lashes out with his learned racial epithets against Timothy who, nevertheless, continues to care for Philip, even after Philip goes blind from a head injury during the sinking. They end up on a small deserted island for months. Timothy, aware of his mortality, teaches Philip to thrive despite his blindness, with marked paths, fishing lines, frond weaving, and coconut retrieval. Philip learns to appreciate Timothy as a man and mentor and friends and, with the aid of his blindness, forgets his skin color.

The ending is very satisfying for a children's story. The reader of this story does an excellent job with Caribbean accents. Minor sound effects subtly add to the story. The story kept my children quiet and engaged. I, too, was very interested. We all were unhappy when the story ended, but we were still over an hour away from our destination.


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