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Call It Courage – A Mini Unit

Call It Courage by Armstrong Perry is an excellent story. It deals with courage and cowardice, adventure and the high seas, and home and family and grief. What follows are sme suggested activities for use when reading the book or doing a literature unit on Call It Courage.

Book Summary:

A Polynesian chief’s son is called a coward by the people of his island. He fears the sea because it killed his mother when he was just a baby. When he is ten, he can no longer bear the taunts and jibes from his people and paddles out to sea, alone in his canoe, to conquer his fear.

About the Author:

Armstrong Perry (1897 – 1976) was born in Connecticut. He spent two years in the South Pacific where he learned to speak French and Polynesian. His own travels and his grandfather’s tales of South Seas adventures inspired his books.

Suggested Vocabulary Words:


Questions and Activities:

1. Why does Mafatu fear the sea? Do you think this is a valid reason for being afraid of the sea?

2. How do you think Mafatu would have felt if the shark had killed Uri and he had stood by and watched?

3. What are at least three things that Mafatu does that give him confidence and help develop his courage?

4. Look in your local newspaper and listen to the news to find stories and articles about courageous people. Write a short paragraph, or clip the article, and underneath it, tell why the person is courageous.

5. What is your greatest fear? Why? What do you think you could do to overcome that fear?

6. Do a geographical search for the island of Hikueru in the Pacific Ocean. What is the island and its people like today?

7. Mafatu makes many tools, which he needs to survive on the island. Find pictures or descriptions of tools used by the Polynesians of early times.

8. Draw a picture of Mafatu’s boat based on the descriptions found in the book.

9. Find out about Polynesian food. If possible, sample and/or cook some Polynesian dishes to share with family or friends.

Other books by Armstrong Perry:

All Set Sail
Danger to Windward
Little Eagles
Lost Lagoon
One Day With Jambi
One Day With Manu
One Day With Tuktu
South of Cape Horn
Storm Canvas
Wagon Westward


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