This classic story follows a boy, an old man, and a cat as they struggle to survive after a shipwreck during World War II. The graceful prose is friendly to young readers, and the characters are authentic and memorable. Philip, Timothy, and Stew Cat are an unlikely trio, and at first, Philip's resistance to Timothy's good nature and kindness are uncomfortable to observe. When he is forced to depend on Timothy, however, Philip learns to look past the outward appearance and see the person within. Sometimes Timothy reflects the stereotype of the "wise old Negro" in his knowledge of the sea and nature, but then again, a man born and raised on islands has a lot to offer when two shipwreck survivors are trying to build a life on a cay and one of them is a 12-year-old. A message against prejudice pervades throughout without being heavy-handed, making this one just as relevant for our time as it was in 1969.

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