Saturday, July 5, 2014

Li Lun: Lad of Courage, by Carolyn Treffinger

Imagine if Mafatu in Call It Courage had decided not to face his fear of the ocean, but instead refused to enter a boat.  This is the situation Li Lun finds himself in.  Li Lun lives with his family on Blue Shark Island.  All of the men are fishermen, but Li Lun is terrified of the open water and ocean waves.  The day he is old enough to join his father for his first sea voyage, he refuses, begging for another shore-based task.  So his father, in a fit of anger, gives his son an assignment intended to make him beg for the sea- to grow 49 grains of rice from seven on the top of the island's dry, mostly-naked mountain.

On his mother's advice, Li Lun goes to see Sun Ling, a very old man who knows how to grow rice.  He learns all he can from the old man before returning to his mother to gather his supplies and start his walk to the mountain.

After a difficult climb, Li Lun is able to find a small cave for shelter.  He then has to search for a suitable place to grow the rice- not easy because of the wind, exposure, and constant threat from sea gulls and rats.  Then he must find sources of water so he can hydrate his plants from a gourd he brought with him.  And because rice takes four months to completely ripen, Li Lun has many days ahead of him in which to face hardship and find his own source of courage.

I really enjoyed this book as a change from the boy-faces-greatest-fear book- it shows that an aptitude for another skill can be just as useful and require just as much work!

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