Taylor, Theodore 1921–
Taylor, Theodore 1921–
PERSONAL: Born June 23, 1921, in Statesville, NC; son of Edward Riley (a molder) and Elnora Alma (a homemaker; maiden name, Langhans) Taylor; married Gweneth Goodwin, October 25, 1946 (divorced, 1979); married Flora Gray Schoenleber (an elementary school librarian and library clerk), April 18, 1981; children: (first marriage) Mark, Wendy, Michael. Education: Attended Fork Union Military Academy, VA, 1939–40, U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, Kings Point, NY, 1942, and Columbia University, 1948; studied with American Theatre Wing, 1947–48. Politics: Republican. Religion: Protestant. Hobbies and other interests: Travel, ocean fishing, watching football, listening to classical music, collecting foreign menus.
ADDRESSES: Home—1856 Catalina St., Laguna Beach, CA 92651. Agent—Gloria Loomis, Watkins Loomis Agency, Inc., 133 E. 35th St., Ste. 530, New York, NY 10016.
CAREER: Writer, editor, novelist, screenwriter, journalist, publicist. Portsmouth Star, Portsmouth, VA, cub reporter, 1934–38, sports editor, 1941; Washington Daily News, Washington, DC, copy boy, 1940–41; National Broadcasting Company Radio, New York, NY, sports writer, 1942; Sunset News, Bluefield, WV, sports editor, 1946–47; New York University, New York, NY, assistant director of public relations, 1947–48; YMCA schools and colleges, New York, NY, director of public relations, 1948–49; Orlando Sentinel Star, Orlando, FL, reporter, 1949–50; Paramount Pictures, Hollywood, CA, publicist, 1955–56; Perlberg-Seaton Productions, Hollywood, CA, story editor, writer, and associate producer, 1956–61; freelance press agent for Hollywood studios, 1961–68; Twentieth Century-Fox, Hollywood, CA, screenwriter, 1965–68; full-time writer, 1970–; has also produced and directed documentary films. Military service: U.S. Merchant Marines, 1942–44; U.S. Naval Reserve, active duty, 1944–46, 1950–55; became lieutenant.
MEMBER: Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Mystery Guild, Mystery Writers of America, Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Writers Guild.
AWARDS, HONORS: Silver Medal from Commonwealth Club of California, 1969, Jane Addams Children's Book Award, 1970, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (returned, 1975), Lewis Carroll Shelf Award, Southern California Council on Literature for Children and Young People Notable Book Award, Woodward Park School Annual Book Award, California Literature Medal Award, and Best Book Award from University of California—Irvine, all 1970, all for The Cay; Outstanding Book of the Year, New York Times, 1976, for Battle in the Arctic Seas: The Story of PQ 17; Spur Award for Best Western for Young People, Western Writers of America, and Silver Medal for the best juvenile book by a California author, Commonwealth Club of California, both 1977, both for A Shepherd Watches, A Shepherd Sings; Mark Twain Award nomination, 1977, for Teetoncey, and 1978, for Teetoncey and Ben O'Neal; Young Reader's Medal, California Reading Association, and Mark Twain Award nomination, both 1984, both for The Trouble with Tuck; Jefferson Cup Honor Book, Virginia Library Association, 1987, for Walking up a Rainbow; Best Book Award, American Library Association (ALA), 1989, and Best Middle Grade Book Award, Maryland Reading Association, 1994, both for Sniper; Edgar Allan Poe Award and Best Book Award, ALA, both 1992, both for The Weirdo; Best Book Award, ALA, 1993, and Mark Twain Award nomination, 1996, both for Timothy of the Cay; Mark Twain Award nomination, 1994, for Tuck Triumphant; Scott O'Dell Historical Fiction Award, University of Central Florida Libraries, and Children's Literature Council of Southern California Book Award, both 1996, both for The Bomb; South Carolina Book Award nomination, 2000, for A Rogue Wave and Other Red-Blooded Sea Stories. Taylor has also won three awards for his body of work: the Southern California Council on Literature for Children and Young People Award, 1977, for distinguished contributions to the field of children's literature; the George G. Stone Center for Children's Books Recognition of Merit Award, 1980; and the Kerlan Collection Award, University of Minnesota, 1996.
"CAPE HATTERAS" TRILOGY (ALSO CALLED THE "OUTER BANKS" TRILOGY); YOUNG ADULT NOVELS
Teetoncey, illustrated by Richard Cuffari, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1974, Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 2004, published as Stranger from the Sea: Teetoncey.
Teetoncey and Ben O'Neal, illustrated by Richard Cuffari, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1975, Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 2004, published as Box of Treasures: Teetoncey and Ben O'Neal.
FICTION; FOR CHILDREN
The Cay (novel), Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1969, published as The Cay: With Connections, Holt (Austin, TX), 2000.
The Children's War (novel), Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1971.
The Maldonado Miracle (novel), Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1973, Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 2003.
The Trouble with Tuck (novel), Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1981.
Sweet Friday Island (novel), Scholastic (New York, NY), 1984.
Walking up a Rainbow: Being the True Version of the Long and Hazardous Journey of Susan D. Carlisle, Mrs. Myrtle Dessery, Drover Bert Pettit, and Cowboy Clay Carmer and Others, Delacorte Press (New York, NY), 1986.
The Hostage, illustrated by Darrell Sweet, Delacorte Press (New York, NY), 1987.
Sniper (novel), Harcourt Brace Jovanovich (San Diego, CA), 1989.
Tuck Triumphant (novel; sequel to The Trouble with Tuck), Doubleday (New York, NY), 1991.
The Weirdo (novel), Harcourt Brace Jovanovich (San Diego, CA), 1991.
Maria: A Christmas Story, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich (San Diego, CA), 1992.
Timothy of the Cay (novel; sequel to The Cay), Harcourt Brace (San Diego, CA), 1993.
The Bomb (novel), Harcourt Brace (San Diego, CA), 1995.
Rogue Wave and Other Red-Blooded Sea Stories (short stories), Harcourt Brace (San Diego, CA), 1996.
A Sailor Returns, Blue Sky Press (New York, NY), 2001.
Lord of the Kill (novel; sequel to Sniper), Blue Sky Press (New York, NY), 2002.
Hello, Arctic! (picture book), illustrated by Margaret Chodos-Irvine, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 2002.
The Boy Who Could Fly without a Motor (fantasy), Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 2002.
Ice Drift (novel), Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 2004.
Billy the Kid (novel), Harcourt (Orlando, FL, 2005.
NONFICTION; FOR CHILDREN
People Who Make Movies, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1967.
Air Raid—Pearl Harbor!: The Story of December 7, 1941, illustrated by W.T. Mars, Crowell (New York, NY), 1971, revised edition, Harcourt (San Diego, CA), 2001.
Rebellion Town, Williamsburg, 1776, illustrated by Richard Cuffari, Crowell (New York, NY), 1973.
Battle in the Arctic Seas: The Story of Convoy PQ 17, illustrated by Robert Andrew Parker, Crowell (New York, NY), 1976.
(With Louis Irigaray) A Shepherd Watches, A Shepherd Sings, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1977.
Rocket Island, Avon (New York, NY), 1983.
"BATTLE" SERIES; NONFICTION FOR CHILDREN
The Battle off Midway Island, illustrated by Andrew Glass, Avon (New York, NY), 1981.
H.M.S. Hood vs. Bismarck: The Battleship Battle, illustrated by Andrew Glass, Avon (New York, NY), 1982.
Battle in the English Channel, illustrated by Andrew Glass, Avon (New York, NY), 1983.
NOVELS; FOR ADULTS
The Stalker, Donald I. Fine (New York, NY), 1987.
Monocolo, Donald I. Fine (New York, NY), 1989.
To Kill the Leopard, Harcourt Brace (San Diego, CA), 1993.
NONFICTION; FOR ADULTS
The Magnificent Mitscher (biography), Norton (New York, NY), 1954, Naval Institute Press (Annapolis, MD), 1997.
Fire on the Beaches, Norton (New York, NY), 1958.
The Body Trade, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1968.
(With Robert A. Houghton) Special Unit Senator: The Investigation of the Assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy, Random House (New York, NY), 1970.
(With Kreskin) The Amazing World of Kreskin, Random House (New York, NY), 1973.
Jule: The Story of Composer Jule Styne, Random House (New York, NY), 1978.
(With Tippi Hedren) The Cats of Shambala, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1985.
The Flight of Jesse Leroy Brown (biography), Avon (New York, NY), 1998.
Making Love to Typewriters (autobiography), Pentland Press, 2004.
Night without End (screenplay), 1959.
Tom Threepersons (teleplay), TV Mystery Theatre, 1964.
Showdown (screenplay), Universal, 1973.
Sunshine the Whale (teleplay; for children), 1974.
The Girl Who Whistled the River Kwai (teleplay), 1980.
The Stalker (screenplay; based on Taylor's novel of the same name), Home Box Office, 1988.
Also author of other screenplays, including The Hold-Up, and seventeen documentaries. Author of books under the pseudonym T.T. Lang and as a ghostwriter for other authors. Contributor of short stories and novelettes to periodicals, including Argosy, Collier's, Ladies' Home Journal, Look, McCall's, New York Times, Redbook, Saturday Evening Post, and Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine.
Taylor's books have been published in eighteen other languages and forms, including Hebrew and Braille. Taylor's manuscripts are housed in a permanent collection at the Kerlan Collection at the University of Minnesota.
ADAPTATIONS: The Cay was adapted as a movie by NBC-TV, 1974, and was broadcast on the Bell System Family Theater; it was also released as a filmstrip by Pied Piper Productions, 1975; The Trouble with Tuck was adapted as a filmstrip by Pied Piper Productions, 1986; The Cay was released on audio cassette by Bantam Audio Publishing, 1992; Recorded Books Library Service has released audio cassettes of several of Taylor's works, including Timothy of the Cay, Sweet Friday Island, and Tuck Triumphant in 1994; The Hostage and The Weirdo in 1995; The Bomb in 1996; and The Trouble with Tuck in 1997. The Cay on Stage, a theatrical production for schools, was created by the California Theatre Center, Sunnyvale, CA. Teacher's guides for Taylor's works also have been published, including The Cay/Timothy of the Cay Curriculum Unit by the Center for Learning Network Staff, The Center for Learning, 1995; The Cay—Literature Unit, Teacher Created Units, Inc., 1995; and A Guide for Using "The Cay" in the Classroom; The Maldonado Miracle was adapted as a movie directed by actress Salma Hayek.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Blood of the Noddies, a young adult novel; A Torrent of Blood in Beautiful St. Thomas, a suspense novel for adults.
SIDELIGHTS: A prolific and popular American author of fiction and nonfiction for children and adults, Theodore Taylor is acclaimed for writing works that are both action-filled and thought-provoking. He is considered a distinguished, award-winning author for young people as well as an accomplished historian, especially of naval history, for both children and adults. As a writer for the young, Taylor has written realistic, historical fiction, and informational books, most of which he addresses to middle-graders and young adults. His fiction characteristically features young protagonists—preteen or adolescent boys and girls of varying ethnic backgrounds—who cope with challenges that often concern their physical survival. Through their experiences, these characters, who sometimes have lost their senses, such as sight or speech, or have physical disabilities, stand up for their values and learn independence and self-reliance as well as acceptance of other people and cultures. In his nonfiction, Taylor addresses important events in World War II, both successes and failures, that relate to the U.S. Navy, such as Pearl Harbor, the Battle of Midway, and the sinking of Germany's greatest battleship, the Bismarck.
Taylor has also written numerous nonfiction works for younger people and for general readers. He recreated a pivotal year in American history (1775–76) by focusing on the events in Williamsburg, Virginia; wrote a behind-the-scenes survey of the motion picture industry; and created an account of the secret research done by Germany on rocket weaponry. As a writer for adults, Taylor has penned mysteries and thrillers as well as nonfiction. In the latter genre, he has collaborated with actress Tippi Hedren and mentalist the Amazing Kreskin, has written biographies of composer Jule Stein and Admiral Marc Andrew "Pete" Mitscher of the U.S. Navy, and has investigated the assassination of Senator Robert Kennedy, among other works. He has written well-received biographies of Jesse Leroy Brown, the first African-American naval aviator, and of a second-generation Basque shepherd in California. Taylor is also a screenwriter for children and adults and has written, produced, and/or directed seventeen documentaries.
In The Flight of Jesse Leroy Brown Taylor provides "a brilliant account of the courageous acts and deeds of America's first Black Navy aviator," remarked Willie L. Hensley in Black Issues in Higher Education. Taylor traces Brown's early life in Mississippi and his decision to attend Ohio State University, a traditionally all-white school. While there, he decided to take a risk and apply for the Navy's pre-flight training program. Discouraged from applying and consistently told why he should not apply, Brown tried out for the program anyway and was accepted. He passed the entrance exam with high marks, but still had to face tremendous obstacles to become an aviator, including blatant racism, discrimination from white instructors who did not want him to join the "elite club" of white pilots, and even resistance by Black Navy stewards who thought he was ill-advised to try to earn his wings. Brown persisted through all these obstacles, however, to successfully earn his right to be a Navy aviator. By the time he went to Korea, Brown was married and a father. He was shot down while flying combat operations covering the Marine withdrawal from Chosin. In a testament to the powerful bonds forged between Brown and his fellow pilots, a white squadron mate crashed his own plane on the mountainside in an attempt to save Brown's life, which earned that pilot a Medal of Honor. The attempt to save him was futile, however, and Brown died in combat on December 4, 1950. The biography's "overall effect is an engaging and intimate glimpse of a young pioneer who desperately wanted to earn his aviator's wings," stated a Publishers Weekly critic. "Taylor writes the story with a deep admiration for Brown—an admiration that is truly captivating," commented Hensley. Brown "never saw his twenty-fifth birthday but managed large achievements in that short span," commented Roland Green in Booklist.
Taylor is well known as the author of The Cay, a young adult novel that relates how a prejudiced eleven-year-old American boy is shipwrecked on a small deserted cay, or low island, with a seventy-year-old, black West Indian man during World War II. Through his experiences the boy, Phillip Enright, learns to love and respect the man, Timothy, and to learn that friendship is color-blind. The Cay is one of the most successful and controversial novels in children's literature. It has sold over four million copies worldwide, but has been criticized as racist by both black and white organizations. Consequently, it has been banned by some schools and libraries. Taylor is also the creator of Timothy of the Cay, which is both a prequel and a sequel to The Cay.
In addition, Taylor is the author of the "Cape Hatteras" trilogy, which is also known as the "Outer Banks" trilogy, a trio of historical novels for children set in the late 1800s on the Hatteras Banks of North Carolina. In these works, the author outlines the adventures of Ben O'Neal, a fatherless boy who wants to go to sea, and Wendy Lynn Appleton, a mute young English girl who is the sole survivor of a shipwreck and is nicknamed "Teetoncey," or teeny-tiny, by the residents of the island on which she and Ben live. Taylor is also the creator of the "Tuck" books, two popular stories about an adolescent girl and her beloved blind dog, Friar Tuck, and two young adult novels, Sniper and Lord of the Kill, that feature teenage protagonist Ben Jepson, a young man who encounters kidnapping and murder when his parents leave him to manage Los Coyotes Preserve, a refuge for big cats near Los Angeles.
Lord of the Kill finds Ben still serving as the de facto manager of the Los Coyotes animal preserve, tending shop while his parents, fervent animal rights activists and researchers, tour the world to spread their message. The preserve is a catalyst for controversy, however, and has more than its share of enemies. A local retirement community objects to the preserve's presence in the community. The owner of a business that provides canned hunts, in which discarded exotic zoo animals are killed at close range for sport, is incensed by the Jepson's efforts to stop such exploitative hunting. Ben's favorite big cat, a huge Siberian tiger nicknamed Lord of the Kill, is kidnapped by persons unknown and held for ransom. Worse than that, the body of a young woman has been found in the spotted leopards' compound, and evidence suggests that the dangerous Chinese mob, the Triad, is responsible, perhaps seeking revenge for the Jepson's interference in the use of exotic animals in the lucrative market for traditional Chinese medicine. Ben must face these challenges on his own as a test of his growing maturity. "Suspenseful from beginning to end. Taylor's tale sheds light on the threat to tigers around the world," noted Kliatt reviewer Michele Winship. Taylor "masterfully creates an exciting, accessible mystery while weaving together fascinating information about big cats and their care in captivity," commented Frances Bradburn in Booklist.
As a literary stylist, Taylor favors fast-paced narratives written in spare but descriptive language. The author includes various techniques in his works, such as alternating chapters, interior monologues, flashbacks, epilogues, use of present tense and third person, and inclusion of dialect and words in other languages. Thematically, Taylor's works reflect his environmental, political, and social consciousness as well as his interest in nature lore, dogs, islands, and, especially, the sea. Acknowledged for his respect for and understanding of both people and animals, he blends history, psychology, and suspense to promote tolerance, freedom, independence, respect for the natural world, and connections among people of all ages and races. As a writer of nonfiction, Taylor is credited for the dramatic quality of his works as well as for their thorough research and balanced presentation of both sides of an issue. Although he has been criticized for some of his portrayals of minorities, women, and secondary characters, the author is generally lauded as one whose compelling books provide readers with both insight and entertainment. "A fine sense of dramatic action propels Taylor's fiction," a contributor to Children's Books and Their Creators noted, "making his fast-paced novels exciting and readable"; Carol Clark, writing in the School Library Journal, called Taylor's nonfiction "as absorbing as his fiction."
Taylor's experiences and interests inform much of his writing. Born in Statesville, North Carolina, in the center of the Piedmont area, he is the youngest of six children; his only brother died before Taylor's birth, leaving Theodore, called Ted, the only boy among four sisters. His father, Edward Riley Taylor, was described by the author in his Something about the Author Autobiography Series (SAAS) entry as "a blue-collar workingman's working man." Edward Taylor never finished grade school, leaving at twelve to become a molder in a Pittsburgh foundry. Later, he served in the Spanish-American War. In the 1920s, Edward Taylor became involved in the International Workers of the World, a left-wing labor organization that was nicknamed "the Wobblies." In his essay, Taylor recalled that, as a preschooler, he saw his father coming home one night "bloodied and bruised, results of tangling with police during a strike." Taylor's mother, Elnora Alma Langhans, was, according to her son, so different from her husband that he and his sisters "could never understand how these two people got together and got married. She, delicate and fragile; he, stocky and muscular. Mother, reciting poetry; father, talking about the 'working man' endlessly…. She was so gentle and creative; he was so ungentle and so uncreative." Elnora Langhans had wanted to be an actress and had won contests in elocution.
Writing on his Web site, Taylor recalled how his mother would stop in the making of a pie. She would, the author wrote, "dramatically throw an arm into the air in a final curtain flourish, shouting 'Excelsior! Excelsior!' Ever higher. Onward." Taylor recalled, "Somewhat afraid of my father and his Irish temper, I worshiped my mother except for her religiosity." The family (except Edward, who was Roman Catholic) attended Lutheran church services all day on Sundays as well as on Wednesday nights. Taylor also credits his four sisters—Norma, Eleanor, Louise, and Mary—for providing him with a connection to a world outside of his own. One lived in London, another was in New York, and a third was a schoolteacher in the Carolina foothills who was living with a "moonshiner" family. The youngest girl, Mary, lived at home, but had sophisticated literary taste; she introduced young Ted to the writings of Ernest Hemingway, an influential experience for the would-be writer. Taylor said, "all of them enriched me, but John Steinbeck was my favorite author." Taylor stated that "his first and most unforgettable childhood memory occurred when he was three or four perched on his father's shoulder, mother and sister Mary standing alongside." Up the dirt road to pass them on the hard-scrabble front yard came nearly a dozen hooded men in white robes, mounted on horses, carrying pine-knot torches. "It was my first, but not last sight of the Ku Klux Klan. I remember the horses, most of them big and black, steam puffing from their nostrils on that wintry night. I remember the eyes of the riders. Seventy-six years have gone by but I think I could paint that scene if I had the talent." His mother later told him the KKK had burned a black family's house.
Taylor's very first introduction to literature came mainly from the stories in an illustrated children's edition of the Bible. "Action," he noted in SAAS, "was what I liked—David slaying Goliath; Samson and Delilah; Samson pulling down the Philistine temple…. I still prefer action stories, both to read and to write." He added, "I was a dreamer when a child, and had a good imagination then, much better than now." He also noted, "I'm told that I was very shy as a child, the kind that clung to Mother's skirt. And in certain situations I remain shy to this day." When he was about five or six, Taylor became friends with a boy named Phillip. The author stated, "We had fun together but I remembered, later on, his absolute hatred of black people. Man, woman, or child. Tragically, his mother had taught him that hatred. He became the 'Phillip' of The Cay." At around the same time, Taylor started school. He commented, "I never was a very good student and my memories of Mulberry Street School and Davie Avenue School are more of endurance than anything else." Fascinated with World War I, Taylor filled sheets of paper with war scenes while his teachers droned on. After school and during summer vacations, Taylor, as he noted, "excelled in the practice of freedom." He roamed through fields, creeks, and abandoned buildings and flirted with danger, all with the implicit approval of his mother, who, as a religious woman, believed that God would deliver him home safely. Taylor commented, "I had remarkable freedom for a kid curious about most things." He wrote on his Web site, "The fields and creeks of North Carolina were my playgrounds. I roamed as free as rabbits and birds and deer…. Exploration! A writer needs to explore, mentally and physically."
At the age of eight, Taylor got his first library card, although his mother had been reading to him for years. By the time he was nine, Taylor had read Huckleberry Finn, the stories of L. Frank Baum, the "Tom Swift" series, and adult mysteries and detective stories. He noted in SAAS, "I read both Frankenstein and Dracula about then. Heady stuff." At around this time, Taylor was introduced to Hugh Beam, a teacher and ex-football tackle who had married one of his sisters, Louise. According to Taylor, Hugh Beam "was a merry farmer's son who occasionally wrestled a black bear and did other feats of strength that held me in awe. Visiting them in Marion during summers, I spent some of my happiest days in the company of this huge man." Eventually, Hugh Beam went into politics, serving in the state assembly and becoming a judge. He also turned Taylor into a rabid football fan and, as the author revealed, "I remain one to this day."
At nine Taylor and his family moved to Johnson City, Tennessee, where his father, as a war veteran, entered the Soldier's Home to receive free meals. Taylor and his mother occupied two rooms in a private home. During this period, Taylor and his father went fishing frequently. As he did in Statesville, Taylor explored the countryside in and around Johnson City. After about a year, Edward Taylor left the Soldier's Home and went off to find part-time work, while Taylor and his mother returned to Statesville. During the Depression, Taylor had a paper route—getting up at four-thirty in the morning to deliver papers—and sold candy by the box; he also picked up scrap metal to sell at the local junkyard. The author commented, "I wasn't alone in these endeavors and I'm not the least sorry that I went through them." At around this time, Taylor acquired Napoleon, a mongrel pup that, the author noted, "began my long love affair with dogs."
In 1933 Taylor and some friends went down the Catawba River on a raft that they had made. "My parents," he told Norma Bagnall in Language Arts, "knew I was going and they didn't tell me I couldn't. They depended on me to use my head, not to do anything foolish, not to get myself drowned." In 1934 Edward Taylor got his first full-time job in years as a molder's helper at the Norfolk Navy Yard in Portsmouth, Virginia. Taylor and his mother took the train to Portsmouth, then traveled a few miles outside of it to make their home in Cradock, a comfortable village built in 1918 to house blue-collar workers during World War I. "I'd never been so excited," Taylor recalled. "Another state; a town near water, near ships." He added: "Somewhere in me is a considerable dollop of salt…. I had a hankering for the water long before we moved to Virginia." He wrote on his Web site, "I wanted to be aboard [ships], to be a sailor, go to London and Conakry and Durban and Hong Kong and the Java Sea. With the Second World War, that dream came true." Taylor said that he used Portsmouth as the background for A Sailor Returns.
In Cradock, Taylor explored the area and, for once, enjoyed school. At Cradock High School he met an English teacher, Caroline Hardy, who encouraged him to write. He also went down to the Hatteras Banks to fish with his father or with his high-school friends; his trips to the Banks, which were peopled by descendants of shipwreck survivors, many of whom still spoke in Elizabethan dialect, were later to result in the "Cape Hatteras" trilogy. In 1935 Taylor was offered the chance to write a sports column, for fifty cents a week, on the weekly athletic events at his high school for the Portsmouth Star. He wrote in SAAS, "Never had I thought about writing of any sort. And, to my knowledge, I had no talent for it. But I was certainly willing to gamble that I could put a story together." For the next three years, Pete Glazer, the sports editor of the Star, was Taylor's "patient teacher," as the author called him. The editorial staff at the Star doubled as general assignment reporters. "It was the perfect learning institution for me," Taylor recalled. After delivering his stories, Taylor would listen to eye-opening newsroom conversations. He commented that the Star and "another paper, a fast-paced metropolitan tabloid, were to be my college, my seamy-side university, my graduate schools. I've often regretted I didn't attend college. City rooms were the substitutes, newsmen were the teachers."
A boyhood friend of Taylor's, Lou Bass, was a talented amateur boxer. Taylor came along regularly as a "second" for Lou and his fellow boxers, earning several dollars per week at amateur fights in Virginia, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia. Of Lou Bass, Taylor stated, "I loved him as I loved a brother. I also used my slowly growing ability as a sports reporter to enhance his career." Bass became a champion fighter, winning titles in Virginia and the District of Columbia. Both Taylor and Lou Bass left Cradock for Washington, DC, although Taylor had to return to satisfy a math requirement at his high school before being allowed to graduate. He went to Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia in order to obtain the credit and, after finishing the requirement, headed for Washington. Taylor arrived on crutches, having damaged his knee while playing touch football. His pitiful appearance, plus his tenacity on traveling the Chesapeake Bay Steamer on crutches to get a copy boy's job, landed him an engagement with the Washington Daily News. Taylor wrote in SAAS: "A metropolitan newspaper! A Washington paper! Abode of the blessed, the Elysian fields to which most reporters longed to go, and there I was happily answering to the yell of 'copy' or 'boy.'" After about a month, Taylor began writing entertainment features and reviews of movies and plays for the Star. After his first story, an interview with bandleader Charlie Spivak, was published, Taylor wrote: "I kept looking at that 'by Ted Taylor' in that metropolitan paper and thought I, too, had gone to the Elysian fields." His first assignment on the sports desk was a true learning experience: using big words like "erudite" and "hirsute" got his article thrown back in his face by the editor, Rocky Riley, who told Taylor to write simply. "I've never forgotten his advice," the author noted.
When Taylor's mentor at the Portsmouth Star, Pete Glazer, joined the navy in 1941, he offered the job of sports editor to the cub reporter. Taylor moved back to Virginia and became a one-man sports department; he also worked general news: "courts, accidents, sometimes the police beat—fine training for a young reporter," he wrote in SAAS. After Pearl Harbor, Taylor began covering stories concerning the war. His brother-in-law, who worked for NBC, recommended Taylor as the scriptwriter for Bill Stern, a nationally known radio sportscaster. Taylor got the job and began living the high life in New York City. "I couldn't believe my luck," he commented. In September, 1942, Taylor joined the Merchant Marines and became a member of the naval reserve. He served as a deck cadet and then as an able-bodied seaman aboard a gasoline tanker in the Atlantic and Pacific areas, as well as on a freighter in the European theater. Then Taylor obtained a third-mate's license, sailing for two trips on other ships. Returning to the United States in 1944, he was called up by the U.S. Navy as a cargo officer. Taylor became a U.S. Naval Reserve ensign on a cargo attack vessel in the Pacific. Many of his books have subsequently been about ships and the sea, including Rogue Wave and Other Red-Blooded Sea Stories.
Following the Japanese surrender, he volunteered for duty, out of curiosity, in Operation Crossroads, the nuclear experiment on Bikini Atoll. Two atomic bombs were set to be tested on this idyllic island in the western Pacific. Two atomic bombs, originally scheduled for explosion over Japan, would be used on a fleet of one hundred obsolete warships. In a 1999 History Channel documentary, Taylor lamented: "I was shocked when I first saw the quiet beauty of the lagoon, knowing what would happen there. The gentle islanders would be forced to leave their homeland, by Marine gunpoint, if necessary. As a North Carolinian I was well acquainted with the Cherokee Trail of Tears. Now, our government was going to do it again. For what purpose? Everyone already knew what would occur when you drop a nuclear weapon."
The experience served as a background for the young adult novel The Bomb. The inhabitants of the Bikini Atoll have suffered under the occupation by the Japanese, but conditions on their island home seem to be improving under the Americans, who liberated the atoll from the Japanese. The Americans convince the islanders to move off their main homeland during an upcoming nuclear test. As they do so, local boy Sorry approaches the community's traditional age of maturity at fourteen. Sorry and his uncle are suspicious of the move, fearing it will not be temporary at all. When his uncle dies of a heart attack, Sorry takes on the responsibility of trying to stop the nuclear test before his idyllic Pacific home is destroyed forever. Taylor "enumerates a step in the history of the bomb, building tension by presenting historical facts side by side with the fictional tale until the book's devastating conclusion," commented Susan Dove Lempke in Booklist. He also explains how the new island could not support the Bikinians, and how the islanders tried, and failed, to return to their original home in 1969. A Publishers Weekly contributor called the book a "heart-wrenching novel" and "a haunting, soundly researched work."
Taylor met his first wife, Gweneth Goodwin, in San Francisco, while he was in the service. They were married in 1946 in Bluefield, West Virginia, where Taylor had become the sports editor of the Sunset News. Less than a year later, the couple was back in New York, where Taylor became the assistant director of public relations at the Washington Square campus of New York University. Thinking that he might want to become a playwright or an author of fiction, Taylor took classes at the American Theatre Wing and at Columbia University. "I knew I wanted to write," he wrote in SAAS. "I didn't know exactly what I wanted to write. My strong suit was reportorial, nonfiction, so I tried that." Taylor began selling travel articles and other informational pieces to magazines; however, several dozen short stories came back with rejection slips. A few months after his first son, Mark, was born, Taylor got a job with the Orlando Sentinel as its "space" reporter, covering activities at the new space center in Cape Canaveral.
Joining a naval reserve unit, Taylor was called back into the navy at the onset of the Korean War in 1950. While serving at the Pentagon, he became friendly with a writer for the New York Times who had a contract to do a book on Admiral Marc Andrew "Pete" Mitscher, whom Taylor called in SAAS "a wizened, tough little carrier group commander in World War II." Taylor took over the contract and wrote the book, hurriedly, on nights and weekends; it was rejected. On Christmas Eve, Taylor learned that he had to return the five hundred dollar advance to publisher E.P. Dutton. After extensive rewriting, The Magnificent Mitscher was published by W.W. Norton in 1954. Taylor commented in SAAS: "I learned from the Dutton Christmas Eve catastrophe to take my time, be careful, write simply. Above all, write well."
After their daughter, Wendy, was born, Taylor and his wife took their children to the Caribbean, where Taylor worked as a public information officer for the Caribbean Sea Frontier. He acted as an aide to the admiral, who also headed up the naval district centered in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and went on several hurricane missions. "I sponged up background and atmosphere," Taylor noted in SAAS, "little knowing that The Cay was fourteen years up the path." After his release from the navy, Taylor was hired as a press agent by Perlberg-Seaton Productions, an independent Hollywood company that worked with Paramount Pictures. On his way to California, he stopped off to research his next book, Fire on the Beaches, the story of the ships that tried to avoid German submarines along the East Coast during World War II. While at Coast Guard headquarters in Washington, DC, Taylor came across a paragraph that described the sinking of a small Dutch vessel. An eleven-year-old boy survived the sinking but was eventually lost at sea, floating alone on a life raft. Taylor wrote in SAAS: "That paragraph became The Cay, years later."
Taylor worked as a publicist for Paramount for three years. During that time, he met actors such as Clark Gable, Henry Fonda, Doris Day, Frank Sinatra, Fred Astaire, William Holden, Debbie Reynolds, and Charlton Heston before becoming story editor and assistant to producer William Perlberg and director George Seaton. While working for the Perlberg-Seaton team, Taylor wrote his first screenplay, Fire on the Beaches. After his son Michael was born, Taylor decided to leave Hollywood and make documentary films. After moving his family to Laguna Beach, sixty miles down the coast from Hollywood, he began filming documentaries. He created several behind-the-scenes documentaries on the making of feature films that were shown on television and made a total of seventeen documentaries. Between assignments, he wrote fiction and nonfiction for magazines. He also began to work as a freelance press agent for Hollywood studios, as a screenwriter for Twentieth Century-Fox, and as a ghostwriter for such notable figures as comedian Jerry Lewis.
In 1966, after living in Taiwan and Hong Kong while shooting a movie, Taylor decided to write a book for young readers. He recalled in SAAS: "My own children were interested in how motion pictures were made and I thought others might be, too." The result was People Who Make Movies, an informational book published the next year that describes the various parts of the industry. Taylor explains the background behind acting, makeup, sets, stunts, publicity, and visual and sound effects, among other aspects of production and direction. After the book began circulating in schools, Taylor was amazed to receive more than three thousand letters from young readers, many of whom wanted to be actors. In 1968, after hearing a black choral group sing spirituals in the lobby of a Miami hotel, Taylor was inspired to begin writing The Cay. His manuscript was completed in just three weeks. "By far," Taylor noted in SAAS, "it was the quickest and easiest book I've ever written, yet twelve years of occasional thought had gone into the work." Taylor based his characters on people from his childhood and on an old black schoonerman named Robbert, a man whom he met while doing research in St. Croix. In an essay on the For the Middle Grades Only Web site, Taylor noted that Robbert "couldn't read or write, yet he was one of the wisest men I'd ever talked to. He became 'Timothy,'… though, in fact, the fictional character had parts and pieces of other sailors I'd met, too. The physical Timothy—the way he looked, the way he walked, the way he talked—was Robbert. He knew more about the Caribbean Sea than anyone I'd been around, on land or on the decks of ships."
Set in the Caribbean Sea in 1942 and dedicated to "Dr. King's dream, which can only come true if the very young know and understand," The Cay is both a survival tale in the vein of Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe and a story about the defeat of prejudice. Taylor outlines how Phillip Enright, a eleven-year-old boy who lives on the island of Curacao off the coast of Venezuela, meets Timothy, the West Indian sailor. Phillip has been raised by his Virginia-born mother to dislike and distrust people of color. When German submarines begin to sink oil tankers and threaten the refinery on Curacao, Mrs. Enright decides to take her son back to the United States. The pair board a freighter bound for America; however, the ship sinks after being struck by German torpedoes. After being separated from his mother, Phillip jumps overboard and is hit by falling debris. Timothy, a seaman, rescues Phillip by pulling him onto one of the rafts. By the time the castaways arrive at a cay, or small island, Phillip is blind. With only a few supplies, Timothy and Phillip try to survive on the island. Although Phillip acts hatefully to Timothy, Timothy is patient, kind, and wise. He slowly teaches Phillip how to survive on the island. Over a period of three months, Phillip's anger and racist attitudes dissipate, and he begins to see Timothy as a man of strength and compassion. After Timothy sacrifices his life to save Phillip during a hurricane, the boy is able to live alone successfully, thanks to Timothy's tutelage, until his rescue a few weeks later. Reunited with his parents, Phillip returns to Curacao, where his vision is restored slightly. At the end of the novel, Phillip vows to return to the cay.
The Cay was both a critical and popular success and established Taylor as a writer of juvenile fiction. Initially, the novel was acclaimed for its successful rendering of Phillip's growth as well as for its powerful storytelling. Writing in Book World, Polly Goodwin called The Cay an "immensely moving novel" and "unforgettable reading" before concluding: "Phillip, who survived to tell the story, would never forget his friend. Nor will the reader." Marilyn Singer commented in the School Library Journal that the book's essential value lies "in the representation of a hauntingly deep love, the poignancy of which is rarely achieved in children's literature." Writing in Children's Literature in the Elementary School, Charlotte S. Huck and Doris Young Kuhn called The Cay "one of the few stories that details the gradual loss of prejudice." The Cay received several awards, including the Jane Addams Children's Book Award from the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, a prize that Taylor received in 1970.
In the mid-1970s The Cay began to be charged with racism by various organizations connected with children and their literature, most notably the now-defunct Council on Interracial Books for Children. Critics of the novel charged that Timothy is a stereotypical character, an ignorant, superstitious caricature who confirms the negative assessment of black people being subservient to whites. In addition, Taylor was criticized for introducing young people to a colonialist way of life and for using dialect for Timothy's speech. The controversy reached its peak in 1975, when Taylor was asked to return the Jane Addams Award that he had won five years earlier; the author complied. In a letter to Top of the News, Taylor commented that in writing The Cay, "I hoped to achieve a subtle plea for better race relations and more understanding." Margery Fisher quoted the author in Growing Point as saying, "I wanted young readers to understand that color is simply a matter of vision in its basic form." Writing in SAAS, Taylor concluded: "The Cay is not racist, in my firm belief, and the character of Timothy, the old black man, modeled after a real person and several composites, is 'heroic' and not a stereotype. Would the critics have had him speak Brooklynese instead of Creole? Nonsense!"
Today, reviewers generally take a more balanced view of The Cay. The subservience for which the character of Timothy was criticized is now seen most often as a product of his historical era than of his low self-esteem. The Cay is usually recognized as a potent coming-of-age story, one that reflects its time and setting accurately. In addition, the novel is regarded as an example of exceptional storytelling and expression of truth and honesty. Many reviewers now consider The Cay to be a classic of children's literature, and it has become required readings in several schools. However, The Cay continues to be banned occasionally by schools and libraries. In an interview in People Weekly, Taylor noted that he has not let the critics of The Cay deter him. "I was stunned at first," he noted, "but time heals. And for every detractor, I have letters from black children who view Timothy as a hero."
Before retiring from the motion picture industry in 1970, Taylor worked on one more film, Tora! Tora! Tora!, which he describe in SAAS as "draining and disastrous." In 1973 Universal Pictures released Showdown, a film with a screenplay by Taylor; this Western movie features Rock Hudson and Dean Martin. Later, in 1988, Taylor was to write another screenplay, The Stalker, a television movie for HBO that was based on his adult novel of the same title.
Shortly after leaving the film industry, Taylor began to work on his "Cape Hatteras" trilogy. This series, which includes Teetoncey, Teetoncey and Ben O'Neal, and The Odyssey of Ben O'Neal, outlines the growing relationship of Ben and Teetoncey, a character modeled on Taylor's daughter, Wendy, as well as his desire to become a sailor. Writing in SAAS, Taylor called this series "a work which I favor." He added: "The characters were drawn from real-life, as they are in all my books. I stress that I don't have a very good imagination. I'm still basically a reporter, finding it easier to work from real-life models."
In 1974, shortly after the publication of the first novel in the trilogy, Taylor heard a story from Tony Orser, a lawyer who was the stepson of one of his friends. Orser told Taylor about his blind dog, and this became the inspiration for The Trouble with Tuck and Tuck Triumphant. In the first book, teenager Helen Ogden trains Tuck, who has lost his sight, to work with Lady Daisy, a retired Seeing Eye Dog. In the second novel, Helen seeks to train the orphaned, mute Korean boy whom her family has adopted. Tuck rescues Helen and the boy during a thunderstorm while recovering from the death of Lady Daisy.
In January 1979, Taylor and his wife, Gweneth, were divorced. Shortly thereafter, Taylor was walking on the beach with two of his dogs when one of them at-tacked another dog. Its owner, Flora Schoenleber, became Taylor's second wife. The author wrote, "We were married in April, 1981, and I'm now enjoying the happiest and most productive years of my life."
In 1993, twenty-four years after the publication of The Cay, Taylor produced Timothy of the Cay, which is both a prequel and a sequel to the first novel. Although readers—including his own children—had urged Taylor to let them know what happened to Phillip after he was rescued from the cay, he refused to oblige. Finally, after his publisher suggested that he write Timothy's life as a prequel in third person, Taylor relented. The author decided to write his book in alternating chapters, with Phillip continuing his own story in first person. Timothy of the Cay begins in 1942, with Phillip in the sick bay of the ship that rescued him. The story then flashes back to 1884, as twelve-year-old Timothy, who longs to be a ship's captain, seeks work on a sailing vessel. The story continues to alternate between Phillip's struggle to regain his sight and Timothy's life as a sailor until he meets Phillip on the raft. Abandoned as a child and raised by his aunt on St. Thomas, Timothy is determined to own his own ship. Phillip, who is set on regaining his sight completely, faces an extensive operation that could leave him paralyzed—or dead. He also faces a world where prejudice is a commonplace thing. Finally, Phillip returns with his father to the cay, where his friend Timothy lost his life.
Critics were enthusiastic about Timothy of the Cay. As a reviewer for Publishers Weekly wrote, "In the tradition of its predecessor, the 'prequel/sequel' explores social and racial imbalances and draws a graceful parallel between Timothy's youthful struggle to achieve an unheard-of dream—the captaincy of his own boat—and Phillip's courage in choosing to undergo a risky operation to restore his vision…. Somewhat more thoughtful than its well-loved antecedent, this boldly drawn novel is no less commanding." Horn Book critic Kristi Beavin called Timothy of the Cay an example of "the book that breaks the rules—and wins. Timothy of the Cay is such a book: weaving two separate plots, two separate time periods, and two separate voices together."
The Boy Who Could Fly without a Motor is "a wry, small fantasy that a grandfather might spin from his own youth," observed GraceAnne A. DeCandido in Booklist. Nine-year-old Jon Jeffers lives with his family on Clementine Rock, a lonely island nineteen miles off the coast of California, where his father tends a lighthouse and the ghosts of shipwrecked sailors are said to still linger. There is little for Jon to do there, and he fills his solitary days with stories and activities drawn from his own imagination. Mostly he wishes he could leave the island; if he could fly, he could do just that. After reading a magazine article on parapsychology, Jon becomes obsessed with the subject, practicing telepathy and reaching out to anyone who can hear him. Unexpectedly, he contacts Ling Wu, and ancient Chinese magician who agrees to teach the boy how to fly. Ling Wu sets down some very strict rules designed to ensure that Jon does not get caught displaying his newfound skill. Though the boy readily agrees, and begins practicing in the solitude of his room, he is soon unable to resist temptation and flies out over the ocean. A series of events, including Jon's sighting by the crew of a fishing trawler and a UFO investigation brought on by his flight, leads to him demonstrating his flying skills for President Roosevelt himself. Soon, Jon's levitating skill becomes a burden, and he finds he suddenly cannot turn it off. He is even more securely trapped on the island as the Coast Guard constantly patrols the area to keep away potential kidnappers. Eventually, Jon tires of his gift and asks Ling Wu to help him return to normal. Reviewer Ellen Fader, writing in the School Library Journal, observed that the book's "plot, the large-size font, and the many references to the paranormal will appeal to many children." A Publishers Weekly contributor thought that the story ended too abruptly, but noted "Taylor's tight writing and flair for the fanciful otherwise keeps this caper agreeably airborne."
Hello, Arctic! is Taylor's picture book for young readers, "a beauty, with graphic forms and a simple vocabulary," commented Booklist reviewer DeCandido. Illustrated by Margaret Chodos-Irvine, the book traces the cycle of the seasons in the frigid, isolated, but chillingly beautiful Arctic. Spring is welcomed, and as the seasons change, Taylor describes the activities of the animals, the weather, and the ultimate return to the deep-freeze of winter. School Library Journal reviewer Sally R. Dow called the book "a lovely choice for sharing with the very young."
Taylor returns to the Arctic in Ice Drift, a tale of survival that pits two Inuit boys against the harsh and unforgiving landscape of the far north. Fourteen-year-old Alika and his younger brother Sulu are enjoying a day of ice fishing when the floe they are standing on breaks free of the larger ice mass and begins a slow, inexorable drift southward. Quick-thinking Alika releases all the sled dogs but one, hoping that the canines will swim back to shore and somehow alert the boys' parents to their dangerous predicament. Though the ice-ship they are floating on is quite large, the warmer southern waters will quickly melt it away. Worse, as the ice floe shrinks, any animals also trapped upon it will be forced into close proximity with the boys. As the months pass, Alika and Sulu learn to survive in a perilous and austere environment by fishing, hunting for seals, and deriving fresh water from the ice. Challenged by encounters with polar bears and the need to stay warm, Alika also serves as stolid caretaker for his frightened younger brother, reassuring him that they will survive and make their way back to their worried parents. Booklist reviewer Jennifer Mattson commented that readers "will enjoy both the intense survival detail and the gratifying conclusion." Coop Renner, writing in the School Library Journal, called Ice Drift "a masterful and detailed look into a culture unfamiliar to most Americans, a gripping adventure, and a moving depiction of brotherly love."
The Maldonado Miracle, which is the source of a major motion picture directed by actress Salma Hayek, is a "pleasant but uneventful family story about human faith and spiritual crisis," according to Marilyn Moss in Hollywood Reporter. Twelve-year-old Jose risks an illegal border crossing in order to be with his father, who is employed as a worker among the farmlands of California. Injured during his trip to San Ramos, Jose avoids detection and hides in a small church, where his blood drips onto a statue of Christ. A woman who visits the church sees the blood on the statue and is convinced a miracle has occurred. Word of the "miracle" quickly spreads through town and beyond, bringing in reporters, miracle-seekers, and the curious from all over the country. The priest of the church, Father Russell, knows that no such miracle has occurred, but he opts to help Jose rather than reveal the true source of the Maldonado Miracle. In the process, others in town are helped through times of crisis or stagnation in response to the miracle.
In Billy the Kid, Taylor provides a fictionalized account of the life of notorious western outlaw, William Bonney—Billy the Kid. Life in Arizona is not profitable for Billy the Kid. Down on his luck and with only eight dollars between himself and starvation, Billy looks to improve his fortunes by taking part in a daring train robbery near his hometown. But the robbery only makes things worse for Billy. The Smiths, who invited Billy to participate in the robbery, are known criminals who cheat him without a second thought. He is recognized by a local during the robbery. He has been forced to kill one of his criminal comrades in self-defense, and even though he ends up with all the money from the heist, he rouses the ire of the gang leader, who begins a relentless search for Billy, the money, and revenge. Perhaps worst of all, the lawman responsible for bringing him to justice is his cousin and best friend, Willie. Even when Billy agrees to go peacefully with Willie for a trial, there seems to be nothing he can do to escape his fate, and his ultimate doom. "Taylor's colorful descriptions and authentic language solidly anchor the setting in the Southwest," commented Catherine Callegari in the School Library Journal. "Taylor smoothly fuses solid storytelling with the stuff of legend," commented a reviewer in Publishers Weekly.
Taylor told Norma Bagnall in Language Arts: "I think young people need to learn at an early age the satisfaction of relying on themselves…. Every story I have written is about real people and stems from real-life events. They include kids who have figured out things for themselves because kids like that really exist." He concluded: "I'm proud to write for young people, but when I sit down to write, I do not consciously think, 'Now, you're writing for young people.' I let the story go the way that story should go; the worst thing a writer can do is write down to children. I am just not conscious of whether I am writing for young people or for adults. But I will probably do other books with characters like Ben O'Neal, Jose, Phillip, and Teetoncey. They are the kind of peer models children can like and respect." He wrote on his Web site: "I tell aspiring writers to do diverse things, to go to as many places as possible, to watch and listen…. I look back on a lifetime at the typewriter, many typewriters in many places, and marvel at how lucky I've been. On those keys I have two-fingered sports and crime and love and death. I've pecked out books for adults and young readers as well as scripts for radio, TV, and feature films. I've been so very, very lucky. Here I am, still learning the three C's of good storytelling: character, conflict, and construction. And I'm still pecking away. Excelsior! Excelsior!"
Taylor told CA: "Writing a column for Sunday morning of the Portsmouth (Va.) Star on high school sports from 1934 to 1938 is what first got me interested in writing. My writing is mostly influenced by deep research on every subject—my daughter and a friend in England help via their computers. I refuse to buy a computer and I work on a 30-plus year old Olympia typewriter. It makes me go slowly.
"I write daily from nine a.m. to four p.m. I think about the day's work while still in bed. Bedtime is eight p.m. The most surprising thing I've learned as a writer is when I turn research pages, discovering something totally new about an old circumstance.
"The Cay is my favorite of my books. It is required reading in the States. During the school year I receive up to 600 letters a week and employ a secretary full-time to answer them. It is published in 18 languages. No writer can be more proud of a single book than I am."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Children's Literature in the Elementary School, 3rd edition, Holt (New York, NY), 1979.
Children's Literature Review, Volume 30, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1993.
Drew, Bernard A., The One Hundred Most Popular Young Adult Authors, Libraries Unlimited, 1996.
Hipple, Ted, editor, Writers for Young Adults, Scribner's (New York, NY), 1997.
St. James Guide to Young Adult Writers, 2nd edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999.
Silvey, Anita, editor, Children's Books and Their Creators, Houghton (Boston, MA), 1995.
Something about the Author Autobiography Series, Volume 4, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1987.
Speaking for Ourselves, Too: More Autobiographical Sketches by Notable Authors of Books for Young Adults, National Council of Teachers of English (Urbana, IL), 1993.
Twentieth-Century Children's Writers, 3rd edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1989.
Black Issues in Higher Education, February 4, 1999, Willie L. Hensley, review of The Flight of Jesse Leroy Brown, p. 45.
Booklist, September 15, 1992, Chris Sherman, review of Maria: A Christmas Story, p. 104; September 15, 1993, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Timothy of the Cay, p. 153; October 1, 1995, Susan Dove Lempke, review of The Bomb, p. 309; June 1, 1996, Jeanette Larson, review of The Weirdo, p. 1749; November 1, 1996, Susan Dove Lempke, review of Rogue Wave: And Other Red-Blooded Sea Stories, p. 491; November 15, 1996, Jeanette Larson, review of The Bomb, p. 604; October 15, 1998, Roland Green, review of The Flight of Jesse Leroy Brown, p. 378; May 1, 2001, Carolyn Phelan, review of A Sailor Returns, p. 1684; June 1, 2002, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of The Boy Who Could Fly without a Motor, p. 1726; October 1, 2002, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of Hello, Arctic!, p. 339; January 1, 2003, Frances Bradburn, review of Lord of the Kill, p. 872; February 1, 2005, Jennifer Mattson, review of Ice Drift, p. 962; May 15, 2005, Kathleen Odean, review of Billy the Kid, p. 1671.
Book World, May 4, 1969, Polly Goodwin, review of The Cay, p. 36.
Children's Bookwatch, May, 2005, review of Ice Drift.
Growing Point, January, 1971, Margery Fisher, author interview, p. 1669.
Hollywood Reporter, October 10, 2003, Marilyn Moss, "The Maldonado Miracle," p. 14.
Horn Book, April, 1982, review of The Trouble with Tuck, p. 170; January-February, 1990, Nancy Vasilakis, review of Sniper, p. 72; March-April, 1992, Margaret A. Bush, review of The Weirdo, p. 211; May-June, 1995, Kristi Beavin, review of Timothy of the Cay, p. 318.
Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2002, review of The Boy Who Could Fly without a Motor, p. 580; July 15, 2002, review of Hello, Arctic!, p. 1045; November 1, 2002, review of Lord of the Kill, p. 1614; December 15, 2004, review of Ice Drift, p. 1209.
Kliatt, September, 2004, Michele Winship, review of Lord of the Kill, p. 26; May, 2005, Paula Rohrlick, review of Billy the Kid, p. 18.
Language Arts, January, 1980, Norma Bagnall, "Theodore Taylor: His Models of Self-Reliance," pp. 86-91.
Library Journal, August, 1985, review of The Cats of Shambala, p. 106.
New York Times Book Review, January 29, 1995, review of Walking up a Rainbow, p. 20.
People Weekly, May 3, 1993, review of To Kill the Leopard, p. 294; December 20, 1993, Kim Hubbard, "Return to the Cay: Theodore Taylor Reprises His Controversial Classic," p. 105.
Publishers Weekly, July 16, 1982, review of H.M.S. Hood vs. Bismarck, p. 79; June 7, 1985, review of The Cats of Shambala, p. 72; April 25, 1986, Diane Roback, review of Walking up a Rainbow, p. 84; April 10, 1987, Sybil Steinberg, review of The Stalker, p. 85; December 11, 1987, Diane Roback, review of The Hostage, p. 66; August 11, 1989, Sybil Steinberg, review of Give My Heart Ease, p. 441; December 14, 1990, Diane Roback and Richard Donahue, review of Tuck Triumphant, p. 67; November 22, 1991, review of The Weirdo, p. 57; September 7, 1992, Elizabeth Devereaux, review of Maria: A Christmas Story, p. 69; May 3, 1993, review of To Kill the Leopard, p. 294; September 6, 1993, review of Timothy of the Cay, p. 98; September 18, 1995, review of The Bomb, p. 133; October 12, 1998, review of The Flight of Jesse Leroy Brown, p. 65; May 21, 2001, review of A Sailor Returns, p. 108; May 13, 2002, review of The Boy Who Could Fly without a Motor, p. 71; July 29, 2002, review of Hello, Arctic!, p. 70; June 27, 2005, review of Billy the Kid, p. 65.
School Library Journal, September, 1969, Marilyn Singer, review of The Cay, p. 162; January, 1982, review of The Trouble with Tuck, p. 82; May, 1982, review of The Battle off Midway Island, p. 75; April, 1984, Civia M. Tuteur, review of Battle in the English Channel, p. 127; August, 1986, Dorcas Hand, review of Walking up a Rainbow, p. 107; March, 1988, Patricia Manning, review of The Hostage, p. 200; November, 1989, Susan Schuller, review of Sniper, p. 115; March, 1991, Ellen Ramsay, review of Tuck Triumphant, p. 196; December, 1991, Eldon Younce, review of Air Raid—Pearl Harbor: The Story of December 7, 1941, p. 130; January, 1992, Yvonne Frey, review of The Weirdo, p. 137; January, 1993, Ruth Semrau, review of Maria: A Christmas Story, p. 104; October, 1993, Susan Knorr, review of Timothy of the Cay, p. 132; May, 1994, Susan Knorr, review of Sweet Friday Island, p. 135; July, 1996, Stephanie Gall Miller, review of The Hostage, p. 51; August, 1996, Pat Griffith, review of The Weirdo, p. 64; April, 1997, Melissa Hudak, review of Rogue Wave, p. 142; April, 1999, Carol Clark, review of The Flight of Jesse Leroy Brown, p. 166; April, 2001, Tim Rausch, review of A Sailor Returns, p. 150; May, 2002, Ellen Fader, review of The Boy Who Could Fly without a Motor, p. 161; November, 2002, Sally R. Dove, review of Hello, Arctic!, p. 138; January, 2003, Ellen Fader, review of Lord of the Kill, p. 144; August, 2003, Kathy Piehl, review of The Weirdo, p. 117; January, 2005, Coop Renner, review of Ice Drift, p. 137; July, 2005, Coop Renner, review of The Maldonado Miracle, p. 45; July, 2005, Catherine Callegari, review of Billy the Kid, p. 109.
Top of the News, April, 1975, Theodore Taylor, letter to the editor, pp. 284-288.
Wilson Library Bulletin, March, 1990, Lesley S.J. Farmer, review of Sniper, p. S13; September, 1992, Frances Bradburn, review of The Weirdo, p. 93.
ALAN Review Online, http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/ (November 18, 2001), Theodore Taylor, "Exploding the Literary Canon."
For the Middle Grades Only Web site, http://www.kidstrek.com/ (November 18, 2001), Theodore Taylor, "On Writing Timothy of the Cay."
KidsReads.com, http://www.kidsreads.com/ (December 6, 2005), Tamara Penny, review of A Sailor Returns.
Scoop Web site, http://www.friend.ly.net/ (November 18, 2001), Theodore Taylor, "On Writing The Bomb."
TeenReads.com, http://www.teenreads.com/ (December 6, 2005), Sally M. Tibbetts, review of Billy the Kid.
Theodore Taylor Home Page, http://www.theodoretaylor.com (November 18, 2001).
A Talk with Theodore Taylor (video; "Good Conversations!" series), Tim Podell Productions, 1998.