About Me

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Victoria, Australia
I am an author of Young Adult Fiction books. I worked as a teacher in the Pacific Islands for seven years. Whilst in the Solomon Islands I taught PSSC English before the ethnic tension in 2000 forced a change of plans. I love Pacific literature, art and music. You can find me on Facebook at Beth Montgomery Author.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Cay by Theodore Taylor

This week as the awful tragedy unfolds in the island nation of Japan I always think of how hard it would be to escape or outrun a tsunami. Especially so if you lived on an atoll with no high points. My mind always returns to Theodore Taylor's classic island story The Cay.
The Cay (Penguin, 1969)
  Published in 1969 this children's novel tells the story of a young American boy injured by a bump to the head during his escape from a torpedoed ship during World War Two. Phillip is pulled to safety by an old 'negro' man, Timothy, who speaks in broken English and does his best to comfort the distressed boy whose vision begins to fail. Their only companion is Stew Cat, the ship's cat. They make their way to a deserted tropical island and set up camp. By this time Phillip is totally blind and depends on Timothy for everything.
   Phillip's prejudice against Timothy is strong but the patience of the old man brings about a slow change in Phillip's attitudes. When the tsunami hits, Phillip realises what a dear friend Timothy was. This book is such a treasure, not only for it's study of overcoming bigotry but also because of the recurring theme of survival against the odds.  It's a great book for Secondary school students, but it is probabbly too easy for PSSC standard. Even so, it's still worth reading. 
   I know The Cay can never compare to the horror of what has happened in Japan, where thousands of people are mourning the loss of family members and friends, however the book serves to remind us how we often take our relationships and life itself for granted.

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