Timothy of the Cay

Book: Timothy of the Cay
Author: Theodore Taylor
Cover designer: April Ward
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers, reissued in 2007
ISBN-13: 978-1435249295 (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1435249291 (Hardcover)
ISBN-13: 978-0152063207 (Paperback)
ISBN-10: 015206320X (Paperback)
Related website: http://www.HarcourtBooks.com (publisher)
Language level: 3
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Ages 10 and up
Rating: **** 4 stars (GOOD)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
Disclosure: Many publishers and/or authors provide copies of their books in exchange for an honest review without requiring a positive opinion. Any books donated to Home School Book Review for review purposes are in turn donated to a library. No other compensation has been received for the reviews posted on Home School Book Review.
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Theodore, Taylor. Timothy of the Cay (published in 1993 by Harcourt Inc., 6277 Sea Harbor Dr., Orlando, FL 32887). Several years ago, we read and I reviewed Theodore Taylor’s earlier novel, The Cay, set in 1942, in which a young white boy, eleven year old Phillip, and an old black man, seventyish Timothy, are stranded for three months on a small sandy cay in the Caribbean Sea following the torpedoing by a German U-boat of the S. S. Hato on which they were sailing. Phillip was blinded by flying debris, and Timothy taught him how to survive before dying. It is a very worthwhile book.

Timothy of the Cay is referred to as a “prequel-sequel” which tells the rest of their tale in alternating chapters. Beginning with Phillip’s rescue, it follows the boy, now twelve, and his parents as they visit doctors who talk of operations which might restore his sight and give him the opportunity of going to view the cay with his own eyes. Also, it goes back to show the early life of Timothy Gumbs and how, as a young man growing up in Back o’ All on St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, he desired to became a seaman and eventually captain of his own boat. Did Timothy make his dream a reality? Will Phillip ever see again? And can he achieve his goal of visiting the cay?

In a gentle way, the book deals with the subject of racial prejudice, and it also demonstrates the qualities of courage and tenacity. The “d” word is used a couple of times, unnecessarily so in my estimation, and there is one reference to drinking rum. Some younger readers may find the going back and forth between Phillip and Timothy a little confusing. However, we did this as a family read aloud, and everyone agreed that it was an interesting account. My edition has a “Reader Chat Page” in the back with some thought questions about the story.

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