Harcourt has reissued the Cape Hatteras Trilogy, first published in the 1970s. Set on the Outer Banks of North Carolina at the end of the 19th century, they tell the story of castaway Teetoncey and Ben O’Neal, the boy who finds her.
In Teetoncey, twelve-year-old Ben, son of Rachel and late surfman John O’Neal, discovers a girl, unconscious on the shore after the wreck of the Malta Empress. He and his mother take her in and nurse her back to health although she remains mute, unable to tell them who she is and where she is from. Nicknaming her Teetoncey, Banks-speak for “small,” Ben tries to find out who she is.
I read these books as a child when they were first published, and they engaged me as much now as they did then. The Outer Banks in 1898 was a remote and wonderful place. Accessible only by boat, its inhabitants have their own vocabulary—“fleech” and “mommicked” being just two of the new words I learned. Taylor has a keen ear for both dialect and dialogue and each character comes memorably to life. He also shares how deeply the sea is in the blood of each of them, except for Ben’s mother Rachel, who fears and hates it for taking her husband and another son. While I loved the developing relationship between Ben and Teetoncey, Taylor has plenty here for boys as well about ships, salvage, and going to sea. I’ll be sharing these books with my nephew when he is old enough. Ages 9-12