Sunday, June 12, 2011

Call It Courage (1941)

When Mafatu was 3 years old, a storm swept him and his mother out to sea.  She was able to rescue him, but then she perished.  After that, the ocean terrified Mafatu, which was kind of ironic since his name means "Stout Heart" in their Polynesian language.  His father was ashamed of him, boys on the island mocked him.  His only friends were his dog, Uri, and an albatross, Kivi. 

One night, he decided he couldn't stand another taunt.  He climbed into an outrigger canoe and summoning all of his courage, pushed out to open ocean.  So begins his grand adventure.  It is boy against nature.   Nearly starved and dehydrated, he found an island, and began making it home.  He built a shelter, made a new canoe, killed the wild boar, retrieved a spear head from the place that was taboo.  He built traps for lobsters, made a knife from whale bone, killed an octopus. 

"Never again need he hang his head before his people.  He had fought the sea for life and won.  He had sustained himself by his own wits and skill.  He had faced loneliness and danger and death, if not without flinching, at least with courage.  He had been, sometimes, deeply afraid, but he had faced fear and faced it down.  Surely that could be called courage." (p. 95) 

I think children would enjoy this book.  I did, as I thought about how I would survive on a deserted island (without the benefit of Gilligan,Skipper, the Professor, etc.).

Sperry, Armstrong. Call It Courage. Macmillan Publishing Co., 1940.

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