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.