- Paperback: 144 pages
- Publisher: Yearling (July 1 1984)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0440479002
- ISBN-13: 978-0440479000
- Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 1 x 19.4 cm
- Shipping Weight: 113 g
- Average Customer Review: 121 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #791,956 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Sign of the Beaver Paperback – Jul 1 1984
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When his father returns East to collect the rest of the family, 13-year-old Matt is left alone to guard his family's newly built homestead. One day, Matt is brutally stung when he robs a bee tree for honey. He returns to consciousness to discover that his many stings have been treated by an old Native American and his grandson. Matt offers his only book as thanks, but the old man instead asks Matt to teach his grandson Attean to read. Both boys are suspicious, but Attean comes each day for his lesson. In the mornings, Matt tries to entice Attean with tales from Robinson Crusoe, while in the afternoons, Attean teaches Matt about wilderness survival and Native American culture. The boys become friends in spite of themselves, and their inevitable parting is a moving tribute to the ability of shared experience to overcome prejudice. The Sign of the Beaver was a Newbery Honor Book; author Elizabeth Speare has also won the Newbery Medal twice, for The Witch of Blackbird Pond and The Bronze Bow. (Ages 12 and older) --Richard Farr --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From School Library Journal
Grade 3-6-By Elizabeth George Speare. Twelve-year old Matt is trying his best to survive on his own until his father returns to their cabin in the Maine wilderness with the rest of the family. Matt develops a deep friendship with a Native American boy. Matt must decide if he should continue waiting for his family or begin a new life with his friend.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
A wonderfully, beautiful story of friendship between two people of different cultures. Matt's misconceptions of the Indians are challenged as he learns a new way of living. The Indian boy is disdainful of the white boy who does squaw work and doesn't know how to do anything. A bond slowly grows between the boys as they learn from each other and prejudices are set aside.
This is not a plot driven story but more of a slow moving story of two people and their cultures. I've read this about three times now and both my older son and the 8yo really were riveted with the storytelling. Speare is a writer who writes beautiful language and weaves a tale that really makes the reader (or listener :-) care deeply for the characters. I think this book will especially be appreciated by boys and I recommend it wholeheartedly to everyone. A favourite!
While "The Sign of the Beaver" is an outstanding piece of historical fiction, it is also an exciting adventure story in the tradition of books like "My Side of the Mountain," "Hatchet," and "Island of the Blue Dolphins."
It's been many years since I first read "The Sign of the Beaver," so I decided to listen to the audio-book on 2 cassettes, read by actor Greg Schaffert. Schaffert does a great job of moving this adventure along at a swift pace, and bringing the main characters to life. As one young reviewer wrote here, this story makes a great read-aloud, and listening to the tapes would be an excellent option for students, or for teachers to play for an entire class.
Through Matt's friendship with Attean and his grandfather, chief of the Beaver clan, he learns to survive while his father goes to retrieve his mother and sister to bring them back to the cabin they built. Matt agrees to teach Attean how to read after they save him from life-threatening bee stings. In the end, Matt learns more from his native friend, than Attean does from him.
While it is true that white people unfairly took land from the Indians, and this is a story that needs to be told, there were some subliminal messages I didn't notice the first time I read this book. Although Matt has two books in his cabin, "Robinson Crusoe" and the Bible, he mainly sees the Bible as a bunch of exciting stories, and not as a source for his religion. So, while the Bible is not connected to any sense of spirituality, much is said about the ceremonial life of Attean's tribe, and more specifically about his spirit quest for his manitou. So this book implies that Native American ways and spirituality are superior to the white man's ways and religion.
This is just a small observation, in an otherwise excellent book. It's an exciting historical fiction adventure that students are bound to enjoy. It would work both within the context of studying early American history, or as part of a study on Native American life. As another student reviewer wrote here, this book leaves many unanswered questions, so it's an excellent springboard to learning more about Indians in the past.
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