Call It Courage
Dust jacket of 1st edition, 1st printing
|Media type||Print (Hardback & Paperback)|
Call It Courage (published as The Boy Who Was Afraid in the United Kingdom) is a 1940 children's novel written and illustrated by American author Armstrong Sperry. The novel won the Newbery Medal for excellence in American children's literature in 1941.
A short novel of 116 pages, it is about a boy who tries to overcome his fear of the sea.
Call It Courage is a story set in the Pacific Islands. It chronicles the journey of Mafatu, the son of the chief of Hikueru Island, Tavana Nui. Mafatu is afraid of the sea due to witnessing his mother die as a young child, which makes him a shame to his father, and referred to as a coward among his tribe. His stepbrothers would tease him. So one night Mafatu takes a dugout canoe and sets sail into the ocean without knowing where he will end up. He is caught in a storm and the canoe is lost. He lands on a deserted island and learns to hunt and fish for himself, along with his companions Uri, a yellow dog, and Kivi, an albatross.
Soon Mafatu finds a sacrificial altar built by cannibals from a neighboring island. Mafatu realizes his days on the island are numbered and he begins designing his escape by making a canoe. He gathers things he will need to survive a trip across the ocean. He finds a spear point on the terrible altar and uses it to hunt.
After a number of encounters with natural foes, including a shark, a wild boar and an octopus, all of which he successfully kills, he realizes he is gaining courage and learning to deal with the things that have frightened him. The cannibals return and he makes a daring escape from them, returning home at last to his village. He has become transformed by the experience into an imposing figure. His father does not recognize him at first, then proudly accepts him on his return. Mafatu's story is told throughout the ages to the future generations.
"I had been afraid that perhaps in Call It Courage, the concept of spiritual courage might be too adult for children, but the reception of this book has reaffirmed a belief I have long held: that children have imagination enough to grasp any idea, and respond to it, if it is put to them honestly and without a patronizing pat on the head."
The book was originally published in 1940 and has had numerous printings since then, and has been translated into many languages, including:
- Afrikaans - Die seun wat bang was
- Spanish - Estos es coraje
- French - Le Garcon qui avait peur
- German - Mafatu heißt "Starkes Herz"
- Dutch - Mafatu: een jongen die moed had
- Swedish - Kalla det mod
- Mandarin Chinese - Dahai de haizi
- Samoan - Alaga ia, o le lototele!, translated by Fanaafi Ma`ia`i Larkin, 1965.
- Portuguese - Mafatu o menino destemido
|The Wonderful World of Disney: Call it Courage|
|Also known as||Disneyland: Call it Courage|
|Written by||Benjamin Masselink (writer)
Armstrong Sperry (book)
|Directed by||Roy Edward Disney|
|Narrated by||Don Ho|
|Theme music composer||Robert F. Brunner|
|Country of origin||USA|
|Running time||47 min.|
|Production company(s)||Walt Disney Pictures|
|Original release||1 April 1973 (Season 19, Episode 20)|
Call it Courage was filmed for television with a teleplay by Benjamin Masselink and a narration by Don Ho, and appeared on The Wonderful World of Disney for the first time on 1 April 1973 (Season 19, Episode 20).
- Don Ho as Narrator
- luis Temarii as Mafatu
A musical version of Call It Courage was performed between 9 April 2010 and 8 May 2010 by Zachary Scott Showstoppers. The music and lyrics for the production were by Adam Overett, and it was directed and choreographed by Adam Roberts. The Associate Director for the musical was Jaclyn Loewenstein.
|Newbery Medal recipient
The Matchlock Gun