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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. 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 ...