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 tha 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.
About the Author:
Armstrong Wells Sperry was an American writer and illustrator of children’s literature. His books include historical fiction and biography, often set on sailing ships, and stories of boys from Polynesia, Asia and indigenous American cultures. He is best known for his 1941 Newbery Medal-winning book Call It Courage.
About the Narrator:
Louis Diamond Phillips is an American actor and director. His breakthrough came when he starred as Ritchie Valens in the biographical drama film La Bamba. For the Academy Award–nominated Stand and Deliver, Phillips was nominated for a Golden Globe Award and won an Independent Spirit Award.
A Few Reviews from Others:
“Phillips gives this Newbery Medal classic adventure tale an outstanding performance. He so effectively develops the character of the boy that listeners feel Mafatu’s terror and fierce determination to overcome his fear as he faces a monstrous storm, survives on an island, kills a shark and escapes from “eaters of men.” Sound effects enhance the narration. The soft, rhythmic beating of the man-eaters’ drums heightens the terror of their pursuit. A classic example of the power of audio to enhance a beautifully told story. C.R.A. Winner of AUDIOFILE’s Earphones Award.” –Audiofile
“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.” – The New York Times
“My absolute favorite book from childhood. Our teacher read it to our classroom in 4th grade and it’s story has stayed with me for over 35 years. A fantastic story of courage, bravery, survival, and a respect of nature told from the perspective of an insecure Polynesian boy who had been an outcast in his tribe because of his fear of the sea. His fear manifested because of the loss of his mother in an accident while on the water. He feels compelled to conquer his fears and takes to the sea, with his pet dog and albatross, only to find himself stranded on a seemingly deserted island. He must survive and return to his home if he can.”