The Cay

The Cay

4.2 386
by Theodore Taylor

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An exciting adventure of two survivors of a shipwreck washed ashore on a desolate island.  See more details below


An exciting adventure of two survivors of a shipwreck washed ashore on a desolate island.

Editorial Reviews

Saturday Review
A totally absorbing story...starkly dramamtic, believable and compelling.
Children's Literature - Beth Shotwell-Valeo
Taylor's first novel for young readers, The Cay, is the story of a boy's life-threatening adventure at sea in 1942 after his freighter, the Hato, is torpedoed by a German submarine. In his quest for survival, the boy must overcome his racial and cultural prejudices, as well as a serious physical disability in this Robinson Crusoe setting. More than twenty years passed before Taylor produced the prequel-sequel, Timothy of the Cay. The two stories make for compelling reading, and the events, characters and setting are still very much of relevance today. After reading the first, the second expands on the adventure. There is also a study guide for teachers and homeschoolers and a workbook edition. 1987 (orig.
From the Publisher
Praise for The Cay:
“Mr. Taylor has provided an exciting story…The idea that all humanity would benefit from this special form of color blindness permeates the whole book…The result is a story with a high ethical purpose but no sermon.”—New York Times Book Review
“A taut tightly compressed story of endurance and revelation…At once barbed and tender, tense and fragile—as Timothy would say, ‘outrageous good.’”—Kirkus Reviews

• “Fully realized setting…artful, unobtrusive use of dialect…the representation of a hauntingly deep love, the poignancy of which is rarely achieved in children’s literature.”—School Library Journal, Starred
“Starkly dramatic, believable and compelling.”—Saturday Review
“A tense and moving experience in reading.”—Publishers Weekly
“Eloquently underscores the intrinsic brotherhood of man.”—Booklist
"This is one of the best survival stories since Robinson Crusoe."—The Washington Star

· A New York Times Best Book of the Year
· A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
· A Horn Book Honor Book
· An American Library Association Notable Book
· A Publishers Weekly Children’s Book to Remember
· A Child Study Association’s Pick of Children’s Books of the Year
· Jane Addams Book Award
· Lewis Carroll Shelf Award
· Commonwealth Club of California: Literature Award
· Southern California Council on Literature for Children and Young People Award
· Woodward School Annual Book Award
· Friends of the Library Award, University of California at Irvine

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Product Details

Random House Childrens Books
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Like silent hungry sharks that swim in the darkness of the sea, the German submarines arrived in the middle of the night.

I was asleep on the second floor of our narrow, gabled green house in Willemstad, on the island of Curacao, the largest of the Dutch islands just off the coast of Venezuela. I remember that on that moonless night in February 1942, they attacked the big Lago oil refinery on Aruba, the sister island west of us. Then they blew up six of our small lake tankers, the tubby ones that still bring crude oil from Lake Maracaibo to the refinery, Curacaosche Petroleum Maatschappij, to be made into gasoline, kerosene, and diesel oil. One German sub was even sighted off Willemstad at dawn.

So when I woke up there was much excitement in the city, which looks like a part of old Holland, except that all the houses are painted in soft colors, pinks and greens and blues, and there are no dikes.

It was very hard to finish my breakfast because I wanted to go to Punda, the business district, the oldest part of town, and then to Fort Amsterdam where I could look out to sea. If there was an enemy U-boat out there, I' -wanted to see it and join the people in shaking a fist at it.

I was not frightened, just terribly excited. War was something I'd heard a lot about, but bad never seen. The whole world was at war, and now it had come to us in the warm, blue Caribbean.

The first thing that my mother said was, "Phillip, the enemy has finally attacked the island, and there will be no school today. But you must stay near home. Do you understand?"

I nodded, but I couldn't imagine that a shell from an enemy submarine would pickme out from all the buildings, or bit me if I was standing on the famous pontoon bridge or among the ships way back in the Schottegat or along St. Anna Bay.

So later in the morning, when she was busy making sure that all our blackout curtains were in place, and filling extra pots with fresh water, and checking our food supply, I stole away down to the old fort with Henrik van Boven, my Dutch friend who was also eleven.

I had played there many times with Henrik and other boys when we were a few years younger, imagining we were defending Willemstad against pirates or even the British. They once stormed the island, I knew, long ago. Or sometimes we'd pretend we were the Dutch going out on raids against Spanish galleons. That had happened too. It was all so real that sometimes we could see the tall masted ships coming over thehorizon.

Of course, they were only the tattered-sailed native schooners from Venezuela, Aruba, or Bonaire coming in with bananas, oranges, papayas, melons, and vegetables. But to us, they were always pirates, and we'd shout to the noisy black men aboard them. They'd laugh back and go, "Pow, pow, pow!"

The fort looks as though it came out of a storybook, with gun ports along the high wall that faces the sea. For years, it guarded Willemstad. But this one morning, it did not look like a storybook fort at all. There were real soldiers with rifles and we saw machine guns. Men with binoculars bad them trained toward the whitecaps, and everyone was tense. They chased us away, telling us to go home.

Instead, we went down to the Koningin Emma Brug, the famous Queen Emma pontoon bridge, which spans the channel that leads to the huge harbor, the Schottegat. The bridge is built on floats so that it can swing open as ships pass in or out, and it connects Punda, with Otrabanda, which mean's "other side,," the other part of the city.

The view from there wasn't as good as from the fort, but curious people were there, too, just looking. Strangely, no ships were moving in the channel. The veerboots, the ferry boats that shuttled cars and people back and forth when the bridge was swung open, were tied up and empty. Even the native schooners were quiet against the, docks inside the channel. And the black men were not laughing and shouting the -way they usually did.

Henrik said, "My father told me there is nothing left of Aruba. They hit Sint Nicolaas, you know."

"Every lake tanker was sunk," I said.

I didn't know if that were true or not, but Henrik had an irritating way of sounding official since his father was connected with the government.

His face was round and he was chubby. His hair was straw-colored and his cheeks were always red. Henrik was very serious about everything he said or did. He looked toward Fort Amsterdam.

He said, "I bet they put big guns up there now."

That was a safe bet.

And I said, "It won't be long until the Navy is here."'

Henrik looked at me. "Our Navy?" He meant the Netherlands Navy.

"No," I said. "Ours." Meaning the American Navy, of course. His little Navy was scattered all over after the Germans took Holland.

Henrik said quietly, "Our Navy will come too," and I didn't want to argue with him. Everyone felt bad that Holland had been conquered by the Nazis.

Then an army officer climbed out of a truck and told us all to leave the Queen Emma bridge. He was very stem. He growled, "Don't you know they could shoot a torpedo up here and kill you all?"

I looked out toward the sea again. It was blue and peaceful, and a good breeze churned it up, making lines of whitecaps. White clouds drifted slowly over it. But I couldn't see the usual parade of ships coming toward the harbor; the stubby ones or the massive ones with flags of many nations that steamed slowly up the bay to the Schottegat to load gas and oil.

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The Cay (Penguin Readers, Level 2) 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 386 reviews.
diana45 More than 1 year ago
I had to read this book for school a few years ago, but I recently read it again. I still think it's a great and very compelling read. You actually get absorbed into the book and start to like the characters. It's a good book for all ages.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My opinion of this book is that I liked it. The Cay is a very good book for young readers. This book has a lot of detail about what goes on in the story. The Cay is a great book for readers to read. It's about this boy named Phillip. He lived with his mom and dad. There was this war that was going on and these Germans invading his town. Phillips dad makes him and his mother get on this ship to the United States to be safe from the war. But they get part way over to the United States and their ship gets hit by a torpedo from a German submarine. When the boat wrecks Phillip gets knocked out when the torpedo hits the ship. When Phillip regains his consciousness he wakes up in the middle of the sea with this African American in this small raft. His mom never liked though kind of people because they were always different then white people. She said the lived different and talked different than everyone else so she always told Phillip not to talk to them or to have a friend like them kind of people. But Phillip is alone with this African American. They finally arrive at this island by them self. When Phillip tries to see he can't. When the torpedo hit the ship when Phillip fell is got blinded by something. So the only guy Phillip has to rely on is the African American. So will Phillip overcome his racist mind to survive this trip? You will have to read the book to find out what the outcome is.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hmmm.......well..........about this book......... I read it for English class because our teacher forced us to, and one half of the class was like, This book is BORING!!!!!!!! And the other half (including me) was like, WHAT on EARTH are you SAYING????? THIS BOOK IS AMAZING!!!!!!!!! So yeah. This book is amazing and magnificent and life changing and heart warming and funny and...... and....... and...... oh, forget it. - Korra and Avatar fan
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book for the first time when I was in 8th grade and loved it. Now, over 13 years later, I still thoroughly enjoy the book. It is an easy read, but has a powerful story and is written well. A definite must-read!
trebrehzednanreh More than 1 year ago
the book was basically about a boy who was living in the time of the war and has to move because its getting to dangerous where hee is living. when he gets on the boat with his mom, a torpedo hits it and the ship sinks.the boy who is named philipe gets seperated from his mom and ends up on a raft and gets stuck on an island. read the rest to find out what happends. i liked how the book was exciting and adventurous. alot of people write about being stranded on an island but i liked this one the most. i would recomend it to people who like adventure and entertaining books
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This story was written by Theodore Taylor. In this story the author is saying that the color of skin doesn¿t matter in people. The main character, Philip, had to learn how to trust Timothy, a black man, if he wanted to survive and he grew up where black people aren¿t treated as good as white people.
This story explains how a blind boy survives on a deserted island with a black man named Timothy. Timothy helps Philip learn to survive by building things to help him get food and get around the island. Timothy soon dies from extreme exhaustion when a massive hurricane hits. Philip now has to try and get around the island by memory and touch since all of the things Timothy built are destroyed.NOw he has to ry to get off of the island by himself.
Philip reminds me of one of the kids who has lost their parents and has had to grow up by themselves. Even though he did not lose his parents he still had to learn how to live by himself.
If you enjoy stories with real life events and action then you would like this story. This story starts out very slow and hard to follow because there is not much happening. If you don¿t like stories that are slow then you will not like the beginning of this, but you have to get through a couple chapters before it starts to get interesting. When you do get to those parts then you won¿t ever want to put the book down. There is so much happening and it is all one right after another you just want to keep reading. I would recommend this book to all of my friends. I enjoyed this book a lot.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The main characters in the story are Phillip and Timothy. Phillip is a boy who moved to Curacao from Virginia because of his dad¿s job. He always had a bad stereotype towards black people because that was how his parents raised him. Phillip was also blinded when he hit his head. Timothy, the other main character, is a big, strong, black man. He was old but he was in great shape. He grew up without ever going to school and he never knew his parents. The summary of the story is when the Germans attacked the island of Curacao, Phillip and his mother took a boat to escape the island. Then their boat was attacked, leaving Phillip and Timothy to escape on a lifeboat. Then their boat landed on a deserted cay and they try to make their survival. The setting of the story took place during the time of World War II. It took place on the island of Curacao and also on a deserted cay in the Caribbean. There are two themes for The Cay. One is racism because the author¿s main purpose was to teach people not to be racist. The other theme for The Cay is survival because the story is about two people and their survival on a deserted cay. Yes, I did like the book. I liked it because it had a good message in it that people shouldn't be racist. It also had a lot of action that kept me out of my seat. I hope you will read this book too.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was probably one of the best books I have ever read. It was very sad, but I liked how the author told it from the main characters perspective. We read this book in class, and I was able to imagine what it was like there because of how the author worded it. Two thumbs up for me!(:
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is gr8 my science teacherbis reading it to the class but i am reading it on my nook too
HayesE More than 1 year ago
The theme of The Cay is learning about oneself and learning about other cultures.  Once you start reading, you can’t put this book down because something new and exciting happens in every chapter.  One example from the book that conveys the theme is when Phillip’s mother told him, “They have their place and we have ours.” Phillip later learned this wasn’t true.  Another example is when Timothy told Phillip, “No matter what culture you come from, you are the same on the inside.”  I think this is true of everybody.  I would give the Cay five out of five stars and would recommend this book to any preteen because it shows a great understanding of other cultures.  I think it is important that preteens have an understanding of other cultures so they can overcome prejudice in their own lives.
MollySlimShady More than 1 year ago
The Cay is a very enjoyable book. It teaches you an important lesson on overcoming prejudice. In the beginning of the book, Phillip is not very fond of Timothy. As the story progresses, Phillip wants to become his friend and asks "Are you still black, Timothy?" This book just gets better and better as you read on and its hard to put down. I highly recommend The Cay.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book The Cay was a great book in my opinion .I felt that the book was very insightful and it help me understand a lot .If i didn't read the book i probably would not understand prejudice people.Like i do now .This book was one  of those books that gets  better and better .And you don't wan't to stop reading .The Cay is a book i would recommend to my  friends 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is an amazing story and Timothy saved phillip! We read this in class... it is good read.
Caton15 More than 1 year ago
The Cay is an outstanding book by Theodore Taylor. The setting of the book is in Willemstad, on the island of Curacao. The war cause Phillip they main character in the book and his mother to move back to Virginia. His father stayed in Willemstad to help out. While they were on the boat called the “Hato” it was torpedoed during the night. Phillip hit his head and knocked him out. The when he woke up he was on a raft with a big strong black man named Timothy and his cat Stew-cat. Phillip woke up with a headache and then when he woke up the next morning he couldn’t see he was blind. They were on the raft for days before the saw the island. They got the boat to the island and got the boat ashore. They found a place to make the shelter. For months they saw nothing in the air or in the water. Then one day there was a Hurricane a bad one. They took everything valuable from the shelter and tied it he the highest palm tree on the island. Then before the storm came they tied themselves to the tree and just waited. The first part of the storm came and then they rested until the last part came. After the last part Phillip untied them both and just lay there and then when Phillip woke up Timothy was dead. Then about two days later an airplane went over and Phillip lit the bonfire and the airplane said to send a boat to the island because there was someone on it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is a really good book and fasanating
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great book! It may look uninteresting by the cover but it is very good!!! I am getting ready to read it my fourth time!!!
adelvice More than 1 year ago
This is the best book ever. You can really feel the hardship they went through.
Stemple More than 1 year ago
The Cay by Theodore Taylor takes place in Williamsted. When Phillip and his mom left Williamsted their ship got torpedoed and the boat sank. Phillip got rescued by an old black man. I liked this book because it shows ways to help people survive in the wild if there is nobody around. While on the water searching for an island Phillip went blind. Phillip is a young white boy. When they found an island Timothy built a fort. Timothy tried to do his best keeping Phillip in good condition but had to be careful with their supplies. At the end of the book I really liked how Timothy knew he was going to pass away so he set some stuff up on the island so Phillip could survive on his own because I think that Phillip is a little young to survive on his own and plus he is blind. I think that Phillip would¿ve not survived if it wouldn¿t have been for Timothy. Timothy also reminds me of myself in some ways because he is an outdoors person just like me. The part of the book I didn¿t like was that as soon as Timothy passed away the ship found Phillip, how come they didn¿t come before Timothy died. This was a good book. I liked a lot of stuff and I disliked a lot of stuff. I would recommend this book to anybody who enjoys the outdoors.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My opinion is that is was great! It showed wonderful excitement and it had a great plot. It showed Philip's emotions wonderfully about everything that came to him. I also like the fact that Philip had natural feeling about black people in those days, having trouble understanding Timothy's ways. Like how Timothy was afraid Stew Cat was bad luck. Philip thought it was foolish and stupid, but Timothy had been raised to believe in that sort of thing. Philip also was sort of racist, as was his mother. His mother, named Grace, didn't live the negros. She always told Philip not to look at them. Several times in the book after Philip and Timothy are stuck on the raft together, Philip lashed out at Timothy with hurtful and racist words, calling him ugly and stupid. If I was Timothy, I would've been hurt, but it seemed like he took nothing from it. He cared for Philip as if he was his own son, or grandson. Later in the book, Philip began to take an understanding of Timothy's culture, and ended up appreciating all that Timothy had done. Moving on from that point, I also feel a little awkward with the feelings. I know I mentioned before it expressed Philip's feelings well, but I think it could've been better described, for my opinion. Also maybe put in some more expressions and describing looks better. But overall, this book was wonderful and is in my top ten favorite books! I highly recommend this book is read by teenagers, mature younger kids, and some adults looking for a great and exciting book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Before I finished the book, I thought The Cay was about a boy and an old man that are stuck on an island. I was wrong. The book is about a boy named Phillip who overcomes his racism against black people. At first, Philip treats Timothy, the black man on the raft with him, poorly because his mother told him that black people live "different lives" and that they are "lower class". After a few days, Phillip becomes blind. Phillip now depends on Timothy to tell him his surroundings. Phillip than forgets what his mother said about black people and he realizes that just because a person's skin color is different, doesn't mean they're not smart. The book has taught me an important lesson and as Timothy would say about the book, "outrageous good".
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was reading this book in school and i love it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book and it was very sad and sometimes funny:) Then i decided to whatch the movie:) The movie was not that good:( It leaves out alot of the good parts:( And its cheaply made. But the book was really good and I think you should read it:)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Itll make you laugh and cry. It is so amazing and touching
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is good so farvwe are reading it i class you should get it! Vy
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My mom had me read this book. I thought it was an awesome book. People who are interested in island book this book is just right for you.