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The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George…
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The Sign of the Beaver (original 1983; edition 1983)

by Elizabeth George Speare

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5,288731,345 (3.78)59
Left alone to guard the family's wilderness home in eighteenth-century Maine, a boy is hard-pressed to survive until local Indians teach him their skills.
Member:jjmcgaffey
Title:The Sign of the Beaver
Authors:Elizabeth George Speare
Info:New York : Yearling Book, c1983.
Collections:Read, Read this year, ebooks, Working on, BOMBs
Rating:****
Tags:__scanned, Childrens, Fic, !Po, Historical, __make_cover, _import200327

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The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare (1983)

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» See also 59 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 73 (next | show all)
Excellent book, OK story. It's oddly split in my head. What actually happens is minor - boy stays alone on the new family homestead in early Maine, runs into trouble, is helped by local Indians, happy ending. What makes the book amazingly good is what it _doesn't_ do - it treats the natives (OK, it does call them Indians) neither as savages to be taught white-man's ways, nor as Noble Savages who are magically in tune with Nature etc. They're people; they know how to live in that place (the white boy is shown a lot of food, tools, and methods of hunting he doesn't know), but it's not some magical thing inherent in their race, it's just, well, they live there. The white boy (I've forgotten all the names already) is teaching the native boy to read, at his grandfather's request/order; in return, he's getting a lot of help surviving alone. By the end of the book they've earned each other's respect - again, not magical best friends forever, but "this is a person I respect and admire for who they are". When I finished the book, my first thought was "this is the way it's supposed to be written". I'm not certain I'll want to reread - again, the story itself is slight - but I don't want to lose track of it. ( )
  jjmcgaffey | Mar 6, 2020 |
This book provides many lessons and takes the reader on an adventure through the entire story. Matt is a very brave, 12 year old boy taking on the wilderness alone. He learns a lot about trust and patience. ( )
  kaileestrand | Feb 4, 2020 |
Matt, a 13 year old settler, and Attean, from Clan of the Beaver, become friends after a rocky exchange of reading for hunting prices. Matt gains an enormous respect for the Native American as he learns daily that he can create the tools for his survival. Well researched with detail to transport the reader to the cabin in the woods and the Native American village. ( )
  GayWard | Nov 16, 2019 |
This book may be found to be a bit dated by students. The reading is a bit harder and should be provided to students who are confident in their reading skills.
It is a good story about a young boy named Matt Hallowell who is left alone in the cabin both he and his father built for their family, deep in the forest of Massachusetts. Armed with his gun and wits he must survive alone, in his family's new home, while his father goes and gathers his mother, sister, and the new baby. But when he loses his gun to a trapper, he is left only with the meager flour stores and fish from a pond. And, like most young boys, he makes a foolish decision and gets hurt. But, luckily, a kind Indian man Saknis and his grandson Attean help feed Matt, clothe him, and get him back on his feet. Over the course of that fall Attean and Matt become good friends and it is up to Matt to continue to protect the home for his family or he can follow Attean and his family in the enticing life of an Indian. ( )
  TaylorV | Mar 13, 2019 |
I had next to no memory of this book when I picked it up for the second time. I knew I had read it, the cover was burned into my mind. I remembered that I enjoyed it, but in a giggling sort of way. Reading it was something that jogged my memory far more thoroughly. The bear scene, in particular, was memorable - and I could recall the dearth of historical interest. It still amazes me now just how much could be done, how much knowledge shared between the Natives and settlers.

Matt is a twelve year old boy living alone in the Maine wilderness. His father has left him to watch the new cabin and land, and to protect it while he goes to bring his mother, sister, and newborn baby there to winter. Everything seems fine for Matt until his rifle is stolen, and he finds himself at a loss for how to survive. When his food supply is also destroyed by a bear, he knows he's in trouble. Luckily, the local tribe takes pity on him, and the grandson of the chief begins to teach him in exchange for learning how to read English. What follows is a story of friendship and survival.

The book was immensely readable. It was easy to breeze through - the action exciting, and the characters gripping. I found the friendship between Attean and Matt believable, and Matt's desire to prove himself one easy to relate to. This is a far better kid's book than I initially gave it credit for being, and I can understand why it's still taught in schools - or at least was taught when I was growing up. ( )
  Lepophagus | Jun 14, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 73 (next | show all)
The students ... were vocal and articulate in their responses to Speare's depiction of Attean's speech as grunts. I can still hear their voices, 18 years later, as they "talked back" to Speare.
 
In this coming-of-age story set in 18th-century Maine, Matthew Hallowell, left alone to guard the family cabin, is befriended by local Indians (tribe not indicated)…. The Natives speak stereotypical "Hollywood Indian," and the story contains offensive terms such as "heathen," "squaw," and "savage." The story perpetuates the stereotype of the "vanishing Indian." While this book is popular and widely used in classrooms, it is offensive in its portrayal of American Indians.
 
Melody A. Moxley (KLIATT Review, September 1998 (Vol. 32, No. 5))
Schaffert gives Speare's classic story of a 12-year-old boy facing the challenges of young manhood a straightforward yet spirited reading. Matt is left to take care of the pioneer home he and his father have built on the land they purchased in Maine when his father returns to Massachusetts to fetch Matt's mother and sister. Matt, in quest of honey when the molasses runs out, is badly stung, surviving only due to the assistance of Attean, a young Indian, and his grandfather, a chief. In repayment, Matt agrees -- at the grandfather's request -- to teach Attean to read. Matt is reluctant, due largely to Attean's seeming contempt for the activity. But as the boys get to know one another throughout the months ahead, both are surprised by the friendship that is forged. When Matt's father does not arrive and Matt realizes he must face the winter alone, he has to decide whether to go with the Indians as they move their village or stay at the homestead alone. A great choice for family listening, as the listener inevitably considers how s/he would have dealt with Matt's challenges. Schaffert imbues the story with Matt's courage, fear, and uncertainty as well as Attean's grudging friendship for a white boy. He conveys their youth without overstatement, a difficult task for some narrators. Highly recommended. Category: Fiction Audiobooks. KLIATT Codes: JS*--Exceptional book, recommended for junior and senior high school students. 1998 (orig. 1983), Ages 12 to 18.
added by kthomp25 | editKLIATT Review, Melody A. Moxley
 
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To William and Michael
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Matt stood at the edge of the clearing for some time after his father had gone out of sight among the trees.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Until the day his father returns to their cabin in the Maine wilderness, twelve-year-old Matt must try to survive on his own. Although Matt is brave, he's not prepared for an attack by swarming bees, and he's astonished when he's rescued by an Indian chief and his grandson, Attean.
As the boys come to know each other, Attean learns to speak English while Matt becomes a skilled hunter. Though many months have passed, there's no sign of Matt's family. Then Attean asks Matt to join the Beaver tribe and move north. Should Matt abandon his hopes of ever seeing his family again and move on to a new life?
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