Title: Call it Courage
Author: Armstrong Sperry
Major Themes: South Pacific Islands, Polynesia, Oceania, Survival
Synopsis: A young Polynesian boy, who has been afraid of the sea since his mother drowned and he almost did, when he was three, is stranded on an uninhabited island and must face his fears to survive.
First published in 1940, Call it Courage draws you in from the beginning! Mafatu was terrified of the sea, and for a Polynesian boy whose people lived from the sea, that was a disgrace. His father was ashamed of him, and his peers mocked him—even the one who had always stood up for him was now mocking. Mafatu decided he must show them—and himself—that he could face the sea, but the results were unexpected.
After a few days of drifting helplessly across the ocean, Mafatu found himself and his dog thrown up on the beach of an uninhabited island. At least, he hoped it was uninhabited. To his terror, he soon found evidence that the dreaded eaters-of-men used the island for their terrifying rituals. Soon, he was very thankful for the skill he had developed in making tools. Would he be able to leave the island, however, before the eaters-of-men came back?
Call it Courage is great for anyone who loves a good adventure. It also makes a good supplement for a study of the Pacific Islands and their people. My boys were spell-bound as I read it. Apparently, this legend has been told for many centuries by Mafatu’s people in the Pacific.
WARNING: All the way through the story, Mafatu tries to evade the clutches of one of his people’s gods, while calling for help upon another. If you are uncomfortable reading about pagan beliefs, this is not the story for you.
Read Aloud—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 13
Reading Independently—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 12, 12 – 15