Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Call It Courage

Finished Call It Courage written and illustrated by Armstrong Sperry. It won the Newbery Medal in 1941. Set in the Pacific Islands, it is the story of Mafatu, a boy who saw his mother die during a hurricane and who now has a great fear of the sea. Mafatu’s father is the chief of their tribe. He is ashamed to have a son who is a coward. One day Mafatu sets out in a canoe with his dog Uri to try to prove that he is not afraid, but he is lost in a storm and washed up on an unknown island. Here he employs all the skills of his people to build himself shelter, find food, create weapons and tools, and build a canoe to travel back home some day. He encounters many fierce creatures, a shark who tries to eat Uri, an octopus that tries to kill him when he is retrieving his knife from the water, and a wild boar. He conquers and kills all these dangerous foes, but his most dangerous foe is still the sea.

This was a very serious and at times frightening book. Mafatu’s struggle to stay alive and return to his own island is a compelling tale of bravery. Sperry’s book All Set Sail won a Newbery Honor Medal in 1936.

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