The Cay is a children's novel written by Theodore Taylor. The story is based on a true incident recounted to the author wherein an eleven year-old survivor of a torpedo attack later died alone on a raft. The novel was published in 1969 and dedicated to Martin Luther King, Jr. The story is primarily about the relationship between Phillip and Timothy, and Phillip’s efforts for survival on the cay.
The story begins with Phillip who lives on the small island of Curaçao. He meets with his friend Henrik and they discuss the previous attack on Curaçao. The Germans attack the small island and for safety Phillip and his mother get on a boat called "S.S. Hato". The "S.S Hato" is torpedoed so Phillip is rushed onto a life boat. During the escape, Phillip hits his head and lands in another lifeboat with a cat and a seventy-year old negro man named Timothy. After two chances of failed escape they wash up on an uninhabited island. As Phillip goes blind both of them learn to part their differences and survive. In the end of the novel Timmothy dies, while protecting Phillip from a monsoon. Phillip is rescued, naked. And returns home.
The Cay received the Jane Addams Children's Book Award in 1970, but following criticism of the book, in 1975 the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom asked Taylor to return the award. Taylor complied, but stated the work was "a subtle plea for better race relations and more understanding." The book later become required reading in schools in dozens of U.S. states as well as internationally.