The Cay by Theodore Taylor

Reviewed by Karen


Content Ratings based on a 0-5 scale where
0 = no objectionable content and
5 = an excessive or disturbing level of content

Guide to Rating System





Ratings Explanation

Language: Damn is said once. Phillip yells at Timothy, “You ugly black man!….You’re stupid, you can’t even spell.”

Violence: WWII fears and mayhem mentioned as Germans U-boats attack oil refineries and ships containing oil on the Caribbean island of Curacao. Germans torpedo the freighter Phillip is on. Timothy strikes Phillip’s face for being rude. Hurricane hits the cay.

Adult Content: Phillip experiences the mental and emotional trauma of being blind and lost at sea with only a stranger.


11-year-old Phillip Enright lives on Curacao (a small island off the coast of Venezuela) during WWII. While attempting to return the United States, Phillip’s ship is torpedoed and he awakens to find himself on a raft with only an elderly West Indian black man and a cat as companions. Due to injuries that occurred from the attack, Phillip becomes blind. Soon, they wash ashore on a small island where they struggle to survive, all the while hoping to be rescued. Phillip overcomes his prejudices as he and Timothy form strong bonds of friendship. After a hurricane strikes, Phillip survives alone for another month by using the skills Timothy taught him. Phillip matures beyond his years as he copes with his disabilities.

This is children’s literature at its best! The Cay is packed with great adventures of survival, entertaining characters and morally uplifting themes. I loved Timothy’s “Jamaican-style” dialogue–great for making the character seem realistic. This would make an excellent read aloud, as well. I highly recommend it.



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