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Saturday, December 24, 2011

BOOK REVIEW: The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare

DATE OF PUBLICATION: July 1, 1984 (first published 1983)

FORMAT: Paperback, 135 pages

GENRE: Historical Fiction, Juvenile Fiction
, Young Adult
ISBN: 978-


Twelve-year-old Matt is left on his own in the Maine wilderness while his father leaves to bring the rest of the family to their new settlement. When he befriends Attean, an Indian chief’s grandson, he is invited to join the Beaver tribe and move north. Should Matt abandon his hopes of ever seeing his family again and go on to a new life? 


I read this book aloud to my children. It has won several literary awards, including: 1984 Newbery Honor, 1984 Scott O'Dell Award, and 1988 Rebecca Caudill Young Reader's Book Award Nominee.

Wow, what an adventure! I love survival stories like this.

The story takes place in 1769 and involves a 12 year-old boy named Matt. Matt’s father has bought land in a new township in Maine, and the two of them have been building their new log-cabin home as well as planting crops. Matt’s mother, sister, and new baby stayed behind in Massachusetts while the “men” got things set-up for the family’s permanent move to Maine.

During the summer of 1769, Matt’s father makes the trek back to Massachusetts to bring the rest of the family to the new home in Maine. It is expected that it will take six to seven weeks, round-trip. Matt is left in charge of the home and crops in Maine, with his father’s rifle for both protection and hunting.

There is much work to be done tending to the crops and chinking the spaces between the logs of the cabin. Matt works hard, and he keeps himself busy to help pass the time while he is alone. Of course, he experiences some adventures along the way! He makes friends with the local Beaver tribe, who initially are very hesitant to trust a “white” boy.

August, the time for Matt’s family to arrive, comes and goes. Autumn passes, and soon it is winter. The chief of the local Beaver tribe tells Matt that they intend to leave the area and travel north to follow the moose. The tribe worries that something has happened to Matt’s family and fear that they will not return now that it is already winter. They invite Matt to come with them, and the chief lovingly promises to treat Matt as his own blood. It is a heartbreaking moment, and Matt must decide whether to try to brave the harsh winter completely alone and isolated or go with the Beaver tribe where he will be safe. What would you do?

We loved this story! This is one of those books where my kids actually begged, “Just one more chapter, please?” It was hard for even me to put down, and it took a lot of discipline to keep my own hands away from the book and not read ahead!

This is a fantastic book to read with your kids, and I highly recommend it! This would also be a perfect choice for someone who is a reluctant reader.

5 stars!! We loved it!!

This book qualifies as: 
#102 for my 2011 100+ Reading Challenge


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