Sunday, December 2, 2012

Review: Call it Courage

Our sixth grade class was reading Call it Courage by Armstrong Sperry and, since I was helping them with a PowerPoint project to go along with it, I decided to read along. I generally enjoyed the book, although the language is rather dated and it was difficult to visualize what the author was talking about at times.
Mafatu is afraid of the ocean, which is problematic considering he lives on an unnamed Polynesian island. Even more problematic is the fact that he is the son of the chief and his name means "Stout Heart". The time is coming when he should be learning to fish in open water, but his fear gets the better of him. One day, after hearing his friends mocking him in secret, he decides to prove them wrong, setting out alone on the open ocean, where he is thrashed by a great storm and shipwrecked on an island that may be inhabited by cannibals. Can Mafatu fend for himself and prove everyone wrong?
The greatest advantage of Call it Courage, by Armstrong Sperry, is that it is a fascinating peek into Polynesian life. This is also the greatest disadvantage, when we are left wondering what certain words mean, or are unable to imagine what certain activities are without any frame of reference. The writing is somewhat lyrical at times, making ample use of metaphors. Students in Grade 6 and above, who are not quite ready for My Side of the Mountain or Hatchet, will definitely enjoy this survival adventure.
Library Thing review here.

I meant to post this last week, but was ridiculously busy for some reason. I'm currently about halfway through Mortal Engines by  Philip Reeve. It's pretty much the definition of steampunk, which is good or bad, depending on your preference.

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