Book Review: The Sign of the Beaver

Sign of the Beaver, The

“Six weeks,” his father had said that morning. “Maybe seven. Hard to reckon exactly.”

Six weeks, maybe seven. That is the length of time thirteen-year-old Matt must hold down his family’s claim on his own. Alone in the Maine wilderness, it doesn’t take Matt long to run into trouble. A bear breaks into the cabin and destroys much of his food supply, and Matt is attacked by a swarm of bees when he attempts to get honey from their hive. Saknis, an Indian, nurses him back to health and makes a treaty with Matt. Saknis’s grandson, Attean, will hunt for Matt if Matt will teach Attean to read. At first, Attean has little but contempt for Matt and his white ways, but over time Matt wins Attean’s respect, and a friendship is forged between the two boys.

I grew up watching Keeping the Promise, a movie based off of The Sign of the Beaver. I didn’t discover the book until I was thirteen, and I was delighted to find it much different and even better than the movie. Skimming through it again to write this review reminded me just how much I enjoyed it. It’s also unique in that most pioneer stories are set out west, while this book explores an eastern frontier. Another book that works well both as a fun read and as a history curriculum supplement.

Author: Elizabeth George Speare
Audience: Middle Grade–Tween
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 135

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