The Cay Library Edition

by Theodore Taylor

Hardcover, 1969

Call number



Doubleday & Company, Inc (1969), 137 pages


When the freighter on which they are traveling is torpedoed by a German submarine during World War II, an adolescent white boy, blinded by a blow on the head, and an old black man are stranded on a tiny Caribbean island where the boy acquires a new kind of vision, courage, and love from his old companion.

Media reviews

Mary Purucker (KLIATT Review, July 2005 (Vol. 39, No. 4)) Twelve-year-old Philip's ordeal as a castaway after the ship he was on was torpedoed in 1942 has never lost its appeal as a strong survival tale with two strong characters. When German submarines increase their activity off the coast of
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Venezuela, Philip's mother insists that the two of them leave the island of Curacao where his father works for an oil refinery, but she refuses to fly and they take passage on a ship. Not many days go by before they are blown out of the water and Philip finds himself on a raft with a gigantic elderly black man and the ship's cat. His mother's prejudices at first make him uncomfortable with Timothy, but he learns to love and respect him. Suffering from a severe blow to his head, in a few days Philip becomes totally blind and totally dependent on Timothy. When they finally land on a small island, a cay, Timothy teaches him the skills to survive even if he is left alone. Michael Boatman narrates in a straightforward way, easily giving Phillip a slight Southern accent and Timothy's voice a West Indian flavor. The pacing and timing are perfect as the pair battle the elements, get to know each other, and prepare for potential rescue. Category: Fiction Audiobooks. KLIATT Codes: J*--Exceptional book, recommended for junior high school students. 2005 (orig. 1969), Listening Library, 3 cds. 3 hrs.; Vinyl; plot, author, reader notes., $30.00. Ages 12 to 15.
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User reviews

LibraryThing member jrakeandlola
I thought that this book was very interesting and it is a great adventure for the boy, even for a boy that is blind. this book had an interasting and it has been a grest bool to read.
LibraryThing member kgriffith
Perhaps the most memorable of all books I read in elementary school, The Cay is a must-read for absolutely anyone. Covering such weighty topics as war, race, class, and death is not an easy thing to do at this reading level, but Taylor's brilliantly-crafted work does an impeccable job.
LibraryThing member Vampirate_queen
It says on a few of the covers of this book, "It took blindness for Phillip to truly see."

This was a great book that I believe everyone needs to read. It shows why racism is completely pointless in the end, and how it's the kindness on the inside that truly matters.

I read this book for school,
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and, if I hadn't had as much work I had to do, I would have liked it even better.
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LibraryThing member justinscott66
Wow. This middle school or late elementary school reader was simply incredible. It is heart wrenching, dramatic, dangerous and fearless in it's discussion of racial prejudice, becoming independent despite disability, survival and growing up. When Phillip is reunited with his mother, he is not the
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same boy as we are not the same readers.
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LibraryThing member mattandmandy2
I read this book years ago in school, turned out to be one of the best books i have ever read and it sparked my life long passion with reading. I enjoyed this book so much that I had to read the second book Timothy of the Cay! I gave this book FIVE STARS!
LibraryThing member sross008
Timeless classic for 3-8th graders. As a teacher, I've both read it and listened to an audiotape of The Cay about 8 times over the years, and the storyline still draws me in each time. The tight plot and balanced morality are superior to so many other contemporary novels for kids. This is a book
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that I believe actually would educate our youth of today to learn racial tolerance. I highly recommend this book; Theodore Taylor is an interesting author too--check out his bio!
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LibraryThing member mrsarey
This novel is a must read- during World War II, a boy is sent back to America, but is lost at sea with a black man. The boy is blinded by the accident, leaving him to rely completely on Timothy, especially when a hurricane is headed for them. This is an awesome novel.
LibraryThing member jakdomin
“The Cay” has literary connections to other books through the setting as it is during WW2 but provides a different tone than others like “Number the Stars”. There is a lot of challenging vocabulary about boats and war in the book that students would most likely have to look up in a
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dictionary, but can really help broaden their knowledge on these subjects.
(144 pages)
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LibraryThing member read-a-lots
This book was wonderful. A middle schooler named Phillip on a dangerous asventrue of a live time befriends Timothy, a black man. At first he does not trust him at first because of what his mother says but then befriends him. I think its amazing because he becomes blind at one point. This book sad,
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wonderful, exciting, and for sure, a classic.
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LibraryThing member mcivalleri
This book teaches that skin color shouldn't interfere with friendship, love, or anything else for that matter. It deals directly with racism, which is a topic that students must address while maturing. It is an adventure, and a classic. This one could also go into a high-school library as well as
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LibraryThing member srssrs
The Cay by Theodore Taylor is a great adventure story for the upper elementary student. What bothers me about The Cay is the fact that one of the main themes of the book, racism, might be difficult to discuss with the students this was written for. The interest level, reading level don't seem to be
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a good match here. I enjoy the coming of age theme and overcoming obstacles and disabilities that are throughout the book. Another issue I have with The Cay, despite its positives is that Timothy speaks in Caribbean dialect. This does provide authenticity, but it is difficult for grades 4-8 to understand what he says. The Caribbean dialect provides an opportunity to bring into the classroom a discussion on language, which does add a richness to the character. I have not met a child who didn't like this story, so despite the difficulties in language and theme, it is always a middle school student favorite.
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LibraryThing member jenzbookshelf
A very sweet story about the friendship between a boy and an old man. A great book for discussions about human nature, race, survival, love, and sacrifice. It's a bit like Uncle Tom's Cabin for younger readers because Timothy is the savior figure. It's a fabulous quick read that I would recommend
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to everyone.
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LibraryThing member cemccamy
This is a wonderful book for upper elementary grades. It is about the unconventional friendship of an older black man and a young boy during the 1900s. It deals with racism and friendship.
LibraryThing member caro488
the story of Phillip, a boy living on the island of Curacao off the island of Venezuela during World War II. He and his mother are trying to escape the war and head back to their home in Virginia. The ship they are riding on sinks. Phillip survives the boat accident only to be trapped on an island
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with a black man and a cat. The accident leaves Phillip blind. Not only does he have to learn to adjust to his blindness, but he must learn to survive on the barren island in the Caribbean Sea. Phillip is also faced with other challenges including a hurricane.
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LibraryThing member avhacker
i love this book. i had to read it for school and lots of te other kids did not like it. Oh well i guess its your taste in books.
LibraryThing member debnance
I am astonished at all the things I learned from reading this very short children's chapter book. I never knew that Caribbean islands lay just offshore from Venezuela in South America. I never knew there were valuable oil refineries on these islands. And I never knew the Germans tried to destroy
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these refineries during World War II.

All of which appears in this story and all of which are based on true events.

A wonderful little story about a boy who connects unexpectedly with a person he'd thought to be inferior to him when the two are stranded on an island together. It's the setting that provides much of the charm, but it's also the way the author is able to continue to tell the story through our first person narrator even after the boy is blinded.

Nicely done.
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LibraryThing member ewyatt
I've started reading through some of the books in the curriculum at my school that I haven't previously read. A historical fiction piece about two people from very different walks of life trying to survive a shipwreck after being sunk by a UBoat off Curacao in World War II.
LibraryThing member mniaknuacat
Phillip and Timothy drifted and arrived at one island.
One day,Pillip went blind because of head injury before.
Will they able to live in this uninhabited island?Will they help by somebody?

This is moving story.
I impressed by Thimothy's warm personality.
I think if I were Phillip,I couldn't survive.
LibraryThing member daiho.k
Story of child who loses one's sight, elderly person, and cat .
I was impressed that elderly person told child how to live.
LibraryThing member ARICANA
Phillip and Timothy were on a small ship in the Caribbean Sea in 1942. One night, a German ship attacked their ship and it went down. Timothy pulled Phillip into a lifeboat. While they were in the lifeboat Phillip went blind. Then they arrived at the cay and this is the story of their time there.
LibraryThing member tjsjohanna
While looking for something my son could read, I happened across "The Cay" and remembered that I had liked it as a kid. So I re-read it - and it was as good as I remembered. I liked the way that Philip and Timothy start out as strangers and how they come to care for each other. I found Philip's
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blindness just as horrifying now as I remember finding it as a child - how could he survive? especially after the storm? The ending is triumphant and I finished it up, pleased to find how well the story had held up for me.
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LibraryThing member Annod
Very well written, loved it.
LibraryThing member sgerbic
Reviewed Dec. 2002

Recommended by Stirling, I read this book in front of the heater Dec. 23 while missing my children. They were spending 2 weeks with their dad, and I was badly missing them. I had no idea what to expect from this book and was amazed how much I enjoyed it. Phillip is living during
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the beginning of WWII on an island in the Caribbean. His mother takes him to safety when their boat is destroyed by Germans. He is washed onto a tiny island with a black man, Timothy and a cat. After being struck by a board, Phillip becomes blind. On the island (The Cay) Timothy teaches him to be self reliant which allows Phillip to survive after Timothy's death. Marooned for months Phillip finally is rescued but finds he is no longer a child of 12, but a man.

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LibraryThing member DanielleDeFauw
Excellent book - only blind protagonist I know of in children's literature.
LibraryThing member deslni01
"The Cay" is an exciting, entertaining read for the young adult. Phillip, an American boy living in Curacao, is on a boat back to America with his mother and several other passengers when the small boat is sunk by a German U-Boat's torpedo.

Phillip wakes up on a life raft, with a splitting headache
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and the company of a cat ("Stew Cat") and an aged black man from the West Indies named Timothy. Several days later, Phillip awakes blind, and shortly after the raft ends up on a small cay in the "Devil's Mouth" - an area unforgiving for ships to travel.

The survival story speaks of overcoming racism imposed by authority figures/culture. What better way to portray a person realizing there is no difference in race than that person being blind and reliant solely upon a person of differing race?

Taylor writes with authority - short, terse prose reminiscent of Hemingway. Although the story is written for the young adult, it is an interesting and highly provocative read and a great story for all ages. The ending, however, is less than desirable as the last chapter wraps up the remainder of the story - which could have been several chapters in itself - in only a few pages.
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