Thursday, November 19, 2015

Armstrong Sperry Illustrates his own "The Boy Who Was Afraid"

A beautiful fable of a story for young children, The Boy Who Was Afraid by Armstrong Sperry (published in the US as Call It Courage) is about a young Polynesian lad who, since his mother was killed at sea, has been afraid. He is, as a result a disappointment to his father and the butt of other children's teasing. So, he decides to take a canoe and overcome his fear on a long voyage out to sea. It is a charming coming of age tale made somewhat more poignant by the thought that it was written during WW2, perhaps with an eye on talking to its young readers about their own fears.

The book is made all the more interesting by the illustrations by the author. The book has been reprinted and re-illustrated a number of times but to have the author's own imaginings of how his characters look is a lovely touch. He also has quite a talent for strong, graphic depictions of landscapes I think.


Anonymous said...

I remember this book! I was probably 7 or 8 years old when I read it in the late forties.

I don't remember the illustrations as being those shown but the I remember the book.

The illustrations you show, particularly the landscape of the island shore, remind me of the work of Rockwell Kent. Wood engravings?

Aiden Defreece said...

Lovely. Great plates. Thank you.

Callum said...

The book doesn't specify what kind of technique was used to create the pictures but they certainly have the look of wood engravings and yes, a very definite influence from Kent I would have thought.

Glad to bring back some memories.


Margo Burns said...

Thank you for your interest and appreciation of my grandfather's work! The illustrations were done in pen and India ink, but were printed in blue in the books.

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