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Call It Courage

Call It Courage

3.5 70
by Armstrong Sperry

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Mafatu's name means "Stout Heart," but his people call him a coward. Ever since the sea took his mother's life and spared his own, he has lived with deep fear. And even though his father is the Great Chief of Hikueru--and island whose seafaring people worship courage--he is terrified, and so scorned. By the time he is twelve years old, Mafatu can bear it no longer. He


Mafatu's name means "Stout Heart," but his people call him a coward. Ever since the sea took his mother's life and spared his own, he has lived with deep fear. And even though his father is the Great Chief of Hikueru--and island whose seafaring people worship courage--he is terrified, and so scorned. By the time he is twelve years old, Mafatu can bear it no longer. He must conquer his fear alone...even if it means certain death.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Denise Daley
This classic story of adventure and survival maintains its timeless appeal decades after its first publication. Mafatu is a teenaged island boy. When he was only three years old he desperately clung to his mother's neck as she struggled to survive in raging sea waters. She managed to carry Mafatu to shore, but she died immediately after. Ever since, Mafatu has feared the sea. His friends and family scorn him, and Mafatu is ashamed. In a desperate attempt to overcome his fears and to prove that he is not a coward, Mafatu boldly hops into a canoe. Equipped with only his dog, a few nuts, and his fish spear, Mafatu bravely sets sail for a southern island. The ensuing events prove that Mafatu is more than brave. His deeds and the obstacles that he overcomes, prove that he is truly a hero. His courage is remembered for generations to come. It is easy to understand why this fast moving and exciting story is so deserving of the Newbery award that it won. Reviewer: Denise Daley
From the Publisher
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."

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."

Product Details

Publication date:
LRS Large Print Cornerstone Series
Edition description:
Large Print
Product dimensions:
9.25(w) x 7.75(h) x (d)
Age Range:
10 - 17 Years

Meet 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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Call It Courage 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 70 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book in third grade (part of the recommended age group) and LOVED it. I read it again just a few days ago for my Children's Literature class in college. I did my book review on it. I forgot what a wonderful book this is. The description is wonderful and can make a person's imagination run wild! My nephew is seven, and I think I'm going to read it to him next time I watch him. He would love it too!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Armstrong Sperry did a wonderful on this 1941 Newberry Medal book, 'Call It Courage.' I believe this book is wonderful for kids of all ages. I love how the boy has a fear and realizes he has to conquer it on his own. A story like this will help any kid going through something see that it takes time, but someday they will be able to move on.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It's a good book. 'Mafatu the boy who's afraid' hates being called that, so he and his friends Kivi, his albatross, and Uri, his dog leave. He keeps hearing Moana, the sea god who killed his mother say 'some day I will claim you'. As they find land they find an ugly idol. He then realizes that was where the 'Black Eaters Of Men' make sacrifices. Later he finds the skeleton of a whale and makes weapons. Then he stabbed a hammerhead and saves Uri. In the canoe he drops his knife and dives 40 feet to get it and meets a giant octopus and kills it. Then he kills a wild boar. Later he sees the 'Black Eaters Of Men'. They chase him in his canoe. He thinks Maui betrayed him. He escapes the 'Black Eaters Of Men'.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Call It Courage is about a young boy who is expected to be brave because his father is a chief. But Mafatu is afraid of the sea and remembers, quite vividly, how it took his mother a long time ago. The story tells how Mafatu challenged and overcame his fears. It was not easy. But reading this story is easy and well worth reading again.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was a little hard to understand but gets a little better as you read on. The story is centered on the idea of courage which is greatly relected in the plot of the story.
colonels_wife2 More than 1 year ago
I'm giving the book 3 stars because my daughter and I are only half-way through the book. I homeschool my daughter and this book is required reading for a Language Arts lesson. I've read all the reviews here and I find one constant theme among them: poor spelling and poor imagination. To visualize Armstrong Sperry's world in "Call It Courage", you must use your mind's eye...your imagination. Is it that our youth today has no imagination? I would question whether technology (that I love) has stolen minds? Put down the Xbox controller, the game console controller, the handheld games, the cellphone, and computer. Sit in a comfy chair with good light and pick up a book--and read. My daugher is 8 years old and in the 5th grade. She has no issue with the wording in the book and I think it is beautifully written. I will finish the review once we've completed the book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is very good and very well written. It describes the life on the islands well, and it also describes the bonding of the boy and his animals during his quest to find courage. The only problem with reading it is that you can get tongue-tied sometimes with the pronounciation of the islands and language. Other than that, it is easy and enjoyable to read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I remember watching 'Call it Courage' when I was 9 years old on tv, even up to this day, this program was the best.I am now 37,was really glad to retrace this title and even see the face of Mafatu! Brings good memories
Guest More than 1 year ago
Read it as a child and it is still one of my favorites.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I feel that this book is an inspiring tale about a young boy, who is determined to conquer his fear of the waters. The adventures Mafatu encounters will take your breath away, and leave you on the edge of your chair. Mafatu and his compainion Uri are heartfelt characters, and you are always hoping for their best, and well being. If you were to read any book this year read Call It Courage because it is definetly worth the time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is great for reports, kids that think they just can't do something, or best of all entertainment. Mafutu, The young son of the chief of a tribe, has to face his constint fear that haunts him day and night, water. Ever since this young boy's mother jumped into the ocean to save his life and drowned, this boy Mafutu, that's name means courage, has been terrified and journeys to over come his fear. This is one of the greatest books i have ever read, and I recomend it for anyone and everyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is like a dream to me
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have never read the book before. My friend recommended it and i need to get it. I read the desricption and the book seems AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Everyone on Hikeuru (a Polynesian island near the Great Barrier Reef) believed that Mufatu was a coward for being scared of the ocean. While the others were fishing he was making fishing hooks and nets. Everywhere he went people would make fun of him. One day Mufatu decided to leave Hikeuru to prove himself worthy with his dog who’s his best friend, Uri and Kivi the Albatross. Later that night he snuck away on a canoe. All he brought with him was a knife and some nuts. After days in the canoe they finally reach an island. The island was lush and beautiful. But when Mufatu and Uri look around they find an evil shrine. The shrine was made by a group of people called the eaters-of-men. Will Mufatu and Uri survive and get back to Hikeuru? I thought “Call it Courage” was a pretty good book. Some of the words were in a different language. Since call it courage was written a while ago Armstrong Sperry worded it differently. Overall I thought Call It Courage was a pretty good book. I would recommend this book for kids 11 and up.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. I read it in 4th grade like 2 or 1 month ago and of course loved it. It was amazing Mafatu is like the most brave person in a book i have literaly read. Me and my friend all ways talked about how like amazing it was when we moved on to another book FEVER 1793 witch also you can get on the nook. We hoped it was similar to Call it Courage and thats how amazing it was.
Labradorlover0SM More than 1 year ago
I read the book at school.The heros are Mafutu the cowedley boy,Uri the brave dog and Kivi the loylal albatross.It was soooooooooooooo good.Read CALL IT COURAGE.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This chapter book illustrates a boy who has great fear but overcomes his trepidation while on a journey across the sea. "Call It Courage" by Armstrong Sperry takes readers on a voyage with the main character, Mafatu and his two friends, a dog named Uri, and an albatross named Kivi. Chapter one of this story lays the reasoning behind Mafatu's fear, the sea, which is ironic because he lives on an island. But because of a nautical tragedy Mafatu fears the sea greatly. The island's native tribe label Mafatu as a coward and his father, the Chief of the tribe, does not speak to Mafatu out of shame of this fear. At the end of chapter one, we see that Mafatu feels the need to prove he is not a coward and takes off in a canoe into the open ocean. Chapter two then leads us into the trying times that Mafatu has while battling the open ocean waters and its unforgiving squalls and hurricanes. Finally Mafatu and his dog, Uri, find themselves shipwrecked off the coast of an unknown island, which closes chapter two. "The Island" is the title of chapter three and describes a few more adventures that Mafatu experiences. Mafatu scouts the island for people and shelter and finds nothing, he then begins to understand that he is alone and can only depend on himself for survival. Mafatu scavenges food, builds shelter, treats his wounds, crafts a new canoe, makes a knife from shell and dares to touch a sacred God's statue. The next chapter, chapter four, again shows the obstacles that Mafatu has to overcome while living on this unfamiliar island. Mafatu puts his life in danger in-order to save the life of his dog and friend against a powerful hammerhead shark. He then defeats the perils of the deep lagoon which is inhabited by a massive octopus. The final chapter of the book brings Mafatu home, but not before making a great escape from the people who eat men.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This story is about a boy named Mafatu and his fear of the ocean. Mafatu gets lost at sea with his dog. They nearly drown. Both of them get washed up on another island. When he is looking for bananas all of them are gone. He finds a statue looking for bananas. What happens next? Read to find out. I give Call it Courage four out of five stars. My favorite Character is Mafatu. I like hime because he does cool things. Ithink its a good book i just don't think it's great.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My 9 year old son was assigned this book for a book report and struggled with it alot. He is a straight A student and recieved a C- on this report. The wording is very difficult for a 9 year old child.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a book of real beginnings for me when my teenage sister read it to me the first time when I was about 8 or 9. There is no doubt I could have never read it for myself at that age, I struggled with some kind of learning inability, but because someone took the time to introduce me to this marvelous book, I have loved it since (58 years and counting). By God’s grace I have embraced the many worthwhile themes that run through this marvelously written little book; not only courage, but the satisfaction of doing something yourself, the importance of friendships and the loyalty that comes with that. Self-reliance tempered by the realistic understanding that I am defiantly subject to circumstances beyond my control and that everyone cries out to God, when it gets bad enough. Imagination: the author himself provides some beautiful sketches that are just enough to inspire the imagination of a youth. Sad to say that this current age of media has crippled the imaginative development of the average child and made the seed, that should have grown in to a huge banana tree of imagination stunted and totally dependent upon the imagination of the film or video game huckster. To the book reviews I have seen, that said their kid could not get into this book, I ask: “so, did you break the hard shell off this delicate, delicious, nutritious nut for them by reading it to them yourself?”
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I got realky bored with this book after the first chapter. I wanted to rate it 0 stars but you can't publish your review unless you rate it. Also, some of the wording is a little bit hard to understand.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book in 5th grade and loved it i didnt think i would like it but it was amazing!