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Call It Courage

by Armstrong Sperry

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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5,821501,750 (3.74)73
Relates how Mafatu, a young Polynesian boy whose name means Stout Heart, overcomes his terrible fear of the sea and proves his courage to himself and his people.
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» See also 73 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 50 (next | show all)
Short story about a boy, Mafatu, who overcomes a fear of the sea. The fear caused by a tragedy. Being ostracized by the community of those who honor courage, Mafatu leaves the island. Overcoming the sea, arrives at an island in which he utilizes the skills he used which helped ostracize him. The book does have some subtle lessons. Written well throughout most of the book, but sometimes difficult to understand the details presented. ( )
  Eugene_Kernes | Jun 4, 2024 |
I remember reading this book years ago for school. Our copy doesn’t have a particularly inspiring cover, so I wasn’t sure if I would like it or not, but as soon as I got into it, I realized the cover was misleading. I loved it!

More recently, when my siblings wanted me to read a book to them one day, we chose this one…and ended up finishing it the same day. This is a gripping read! I love the way it showcases history and how people lived in the past, while also illustrating what it means to be courageous and push yourself outside your comfort zone.

This isn’t an easy story, in some ways—Mafatu faced some very difficult circumstances, and then there are (vague) allusions to horrific worship practices that were not uncommon back then. There are also quite a few mentions of Polynesian gods, as this book is based on a legend that was formed long before any Christian missionaries got to the area.

Overall, though, it’s a great book. It has become a family favorite, one of those books that if someone mentions the title, everyone’s eyes light up. “Yes, that one!”. In my opinion, everyone should read this at least once in their lives. It’s a short, sharp, impactful story, and I’m grateful my mom introduced me to it when I was a child. ( )
  EstherFilbrun | Oct 6, 2023 |
Maftu was afraid of the sea. It had taken his mother when he was a baby, and it seemed to him that the sea gods sought vengeance at having been cheated of Mafatu. So, though he was the son of the Great Chief of Hikueru, a race of Polynesians who worshipped courage, and he was named Stout Heart, he feared and avoided the sea, till everyone branded him a coward. When he could no longer bear their taunts and jibes, he determined to conquer that fear or be conquered-- so he went off in his canoe, alone except for his little dog and pet albatross. A storm gave him his first challenge. Then days on a desert island found him resourceful beyond his own expectation. This is the story of how his courage grew and how he finally returned home. This is a legend. It happened many years ago, but even today the people of Hikueru sing this story and tell it over their evening fires.
  PlumfieldCH | Sep 21, 2023 |
I read this one when it first came out as a child. It eventually led me to Jim Kjelgaard, Jack London and other writers of adventure stories. Call it Courage was probably the first story I read that sort of expanded my horizons beyond my world in NE Wisconsin of the 1960's & early 1970's. Even in 2021, the story is not at all dated and I highly recommend it to any youngster looking to step outside of his comfort zone. ( )
  DaleAllenRaby | Mar 8, 2021 |
Very rich story. Interesting descriptions of making the materials of a Polynesian life - weapons, tools, canoe, cloth, fire... The story is very simple, and the end is pretty much obvious from the start - though I wasn't sure the dog would make it through. Nice, and interesting. I may want to reread it sometime - though it's a very thin book, wouldn't be hard to memorize even. ( )
  jjmcgaffey | Oct 10, 2020 |
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» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sperry, Armstrongprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Guidall, GeorgeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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It happened many years ago, before the traders and missionaries first came into the South Seas, while the Polynesians were still great in numbers and fierce of heart.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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CALL IT COURAGE has been published in the United Kingdom as THE BOY WHO WAS AFRAID.
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Relates how Mafatu, a young Polynesian boy whose name means Stout Heart, overcomes his terrible fear of the sea and proves his courage to himself and his people.

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Book description
Mafatu has been afraid of the sea for as long as he can remember. Though his father is the Great Chief of Hikueru - an island whose seafaring people worship courage - Mafatu feels like an outsider. All his life he has been teased, taunted, and even blamed for storms on the sea.
Then at age fifteen, no longer willing to put up with the ridicule and jibes, Mafatu decides to take his fate into his own hands. With his dog, Uri, as his companion, Mafatu paddles out to sea, ready to face his fears. What he learns on his lonesome adventure will change him forever and make him a hero in the eyes of his people.

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