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Call It Courage Paperback – April 30, 1990
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New York Herald Tribune "A boy's character at ten years old is more often influenced by emotion than by reasoning. Something in the conduct of a hero leaps like a spark to light his own spirit. A book with a hero can sometimes bring this about. This is such a book.... It is related with unusual skill, carrying along a reader so rapidly he scarecely realizes how well it is being told... The story is wild enough to be remembered, and it cannot be remembered without doing good."
The New York Times "Whether this author is telling of clipper ships, of the days of the covered wagon, of the South Sea Islands, he writes always with imagination and integrity. Like all hero legends Mafatu's story has a strength and simplicity that appeals to a wide range in age and it is beautifully told. Mr. Sperry's fine drawings have the same spirit of adventure as the story and enhance the feeling of tropical seas and jungle given in the text. The story reads aloud well and will be useful to storytellers."
About the Author
Armstrong Sperry (1897–1976) is the author of many books for young readers, including Call It Courage, All Sail Set, Lost Lagoon, and Hull-Down for Action.
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Mafatu, 15, is terrified of the sea and has always been that way for as long as he can remember. He lost his mother at the tender age of 3 and is still awoken at night sometimes with the sound of the sea causing him to break out in a cold sweat. With family and other acquaintances, including kids his age, looking down on him he has only two true friends: Uri, a dog and Kivi, an albatross.
After hearing others call him a coward Mafatu decides that drastic action is needed! What does he do? Suspense keeps the reader engrossed as we are drawn in to his adventure. Go with him, feel for him as he faces his fears and ultimately overcomes them.
EXCELLENT writing. SO descriptive! Should say though that this is NOT a book for young children. There are scary parts and of course the story does include the black eaters of men! Wonderful though for kids that bit older, along with teenagers and even adults! Not too long of a read and definitely well worth it. I purchased a copy of this book for my Kindle. I was not required to write a review but chose to do so. Thanks, Liz
A fantastic story of courage, bravery, survival, and a respect of nature told from the perspective of an insecure Polynesian boy who had been an outcast in his tribe because of his fear of the sea. His fear manifested because of the loss of his mother in an accident while on the water.
He feels compelled to conquer his fears and takes to the sea, with his pet dog and albatross, only to find himself stranded on a seemingly deserted island. He must survive and return to his home if he can.
It is a wonderful story about facing one's fears. It is a pre-adolescent coming-of-age story set on an atoll in the South Pacific. Mafatu, the Boy Who Was Afraid, decides to face his greatest fear, even if it costs him his life.
Although the story is from the perspective of a boy, I expect both boys and girls would get a lot out of the story. Not only that, I suspect most adults from most cultures might enjoy it as well.