First Line: Like silent, hungry sharks that swim in the darkness of the sea, the German submarines arrived in the middle of the night.
It is 1942. Phillip Enright is eleven years old. He and his mother moved to the island of CuraÃ§ao off the coast of Venezuela when his father got a job with the Royal Dutch Shell oil refinery there. Phillip loves island life and thinks the sighting of German submarines is exciting until he sees one of his favorite ships torpedoed and sunk. His mother is homesick for her native Virginia, and the presence of the Germans makes her frantic with worry. Over everyone else's better judgment, she insists on taking Phillip with her back to Virginia.
The worst happens: their ship is attacked and sunk, and young Phillip (now injured and blind) finds himself marooned on a tiny island with an old black man named Timothy. Although Phillip's friends on CuraÃ§ao had much more relaxed attitude toward blacks, Phillip can't see, he's scared to death, and he treats Timothy as an American used to segregation would. That is something that old Timothy is not willing to accept.
This is a wonderful story about survival and acceptance with the rock solid character of Timothy at the center of it all. The setting of the tiny island is very well done, as is the use of dialect. This is a book that has a very high ethical purpose, and it succeeds because the author tells a believable, mesmerizing story-- he does not preach a sermon. Theodore Taylor has written other books, and I'd certainly like to sample more.
Grade 5-8This is a classic novel about racism and a young man's realization that skin color does not matter. Phillip is an 11-year-old living in the West Indies at the start of World War II. He's excited at the idea of being in the war but is taken away by his mother who only wants to return to the safety of Virginia. Their ship is sunk by the Germans, and Phillip and his mother end up on separate life rafts. After being hit on the head with a beam from the sinking ship, Phillip awakens to find himself alone with Timothy, an old black ship hand, and Stew Cat, the ship's tomcat. The three survive on a raft for several days, during which time Phillip loses his eyesight due to the head injury. They eventually come ashore on a small unpopulated island. Phillip must learn to deal with his blindness and overcome his dislike for Timothy. Phillip's question, "Timothy, are you still black?," shows that Phillip has moved past the barrier of color. After Timothy's death, Phillip continues to live on the island and is eventually rescued and reunited with his parents. This audio version of Theodore Taylor's novel (Doubleday, 1987) is well done, with actor Michael Boatman doing a wonderful job of giving the characters individual voices. The West Indian dialect is smooth. At the end of the novel, there's an author Q&A featuring an interview with Taylor in which he talks about the inspirations for his characters and his travels. An excellent purchase for middle and high school libraries.Lisa D. Williams, Chocowinity Middle School, NC
how blind he had been before he lost his sight and experienced the kindness, wisdom, and love of a simple and extraordinary man.
This story is a great one for older kids (say ages 9-14) though adults may derive some pleasure from it.
The story itself is not very believable, but it is none-the-less entertaining, and hard to put down!
This is a really excellent young adult novel--neat for adults, too! Could you have done as well as young Phillip if YOU'D been stranded on a tiny island in the Caribbean?
From back cover: Shipwrecked! All his life Phillip had looked down upon black-skinned people. Now,suddenly, he was a refugee from a fatal shipwreck, and dependent on an extraordinary West Indain named Timothy. There were just the two of them cast upon the barren little Carribean Island...three if you counted Stew Cat...and a crack on the head had left Phillip blind.
A snob is a refugee from a ship wreck in the caribbean. With just two people on the island. Phillip (the snob) will find out what a true companion is. Growing up and surviving!
Shipwrecked! All his life Phillip had looked down upon black-skinned people. Now,suddenly, he was a refugee from a fatal shipwreck, and dependent on an extraordinary West Indain named Timothy. There were just the two of them cast upon the barren little Carribean Island...three if you counted Stew Cat...and a crack on the head had left Phillip blind.
Great book! I read this book to my family during our vacation last year. We all loved it. A boy and a man are shipwrecked together in the caribbean during WW2 and they learn to "see" each other differently and appreciate each other's differences and knowledge. There is also a sequel.
My 13 year old loved this book and I heard all about it whilst he was reading it!
great book opens your eyes worth reading!!
I bought this for my DS for outside reading for middle school. I enjoyed this because my DH and I have cruised to the islands talked about in the book.
Coming of age story as a Dutch youth must depend on the only other survivor, a Black, after their ship is torpedoed in the Caribbean during WWII. Phillip is temporarily blinded.
"We went out about fifty feet along the reef, and then he said, 'Now, we feesh.' He described the hole to me. It was about twenty feet in diameter and six to eight feet deep. The bottom was sandy, but mostly free of coral so that my hooks would not snag. he said there was a 'mos' natural opening in the sea so that the fish could swim in and out of this coral-walled pool. He took my hand to have me feel all around the edge of the hole. The coral had been smoothed over by centuries of sea wash. Timothy said the sand in the sea water acted like a grindstone on the sharp edges of the coral."