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The Sign of the Beaver Paperback – July 1, 1984

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Paperback, July 1, 1984
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 770L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Yearling; English Language edition (July 1, 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0440479002
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440479000
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.4 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (457 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #524,842 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

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 5-8-Elizabeth George Speare's acclaimed, captivating historical novel (BDD) set in the 1700s receives a fresh treatment here, thanks to narrator Greg Schaffert's fine, crystal clear narration that brings the story to life. Speare's evocative tale tells of the mutually beneficial friendship that develops between Matt, a 13-year-old white boy living alone in the wilderness, and Attean, a proud Native American on the verge of manhood. Matt is guarding his family's newly built cabin while his father travels to retrieve Matt's mother and sister. Attean saves Matt's life after a terrifying bee attack (beautifully brought to life by both Speare and Schaffert). The two become reluctant pals: Matt teaches Attean how to read, and Attean shows Matt how to hunt, set traps and gather. Soon Matt must make a choice: join Attean's tribe or wait for his family to return. Speare's Newbery Honor winner is a good adventure story that will hook those interested in survival stories. It will also serve multicultural collections.
Brian E. Wilson, Oak Lawn Public Library, IL
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

More About the Author

"I was born in Melrose, Massachusetts, on November 21, 1908. I have lived all my life in New England, and though I love to travel I can't imagine ever calling any other place on earth home. Since I can't remember a time when I didn't intend to write, it is hard to explain why I took so long getting around to it in earnest. But the years seemed to go by very quickly. In 1936 I married Alden Speare and came to Connecticut. Not till both children were in junior high did I find time at last to sit down quietly with a pencil and paper. I turned naturally to the things which had filled my days and thoughts and began to write magazine articles about family living. Then one day I stumbled on a true story from New England history with a character who seemed to me an ideal heroine. Though I had my first historical novel almost by accident it soon proved to be an absorbing hobby." Elizabeth George Speare (1908-1994) won the 1959 Newbery Medal for THE WITCH OF BLACKBIRD POND, and the 1962 Newbery Medal for THE BRONZE BOW. She also received a Newbery Honor Award in 1983, and in 1989 she was presented with the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award for her substantial and enduring contribution to children's literature.

Customer Reviews

We read this book during class at school.
This book was a really good book it makes you want to read chapter after chapter it is a really interesting book with intence parts.
Even though this is a book for young adults I enjoyed reading it very much.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Anna Freeman on October 25, 2003
Format: Paperback
The Sign of the Beaver depicts the experiences of 13 year old Matt. Matt is a native of Massechusetts now commissioned to protect and preserve their families new land in Maine while his father returns to bring the rest of his family to the new land. Through a series of events, Matt receives unexpected friendship from a neighboring Penobscot tribe and a young boy named Attean. He learns how to adjust to his new home and survive even the toughest of situations.
This is a well-written book that is exploding with adventure and emotion. It is book that many children today can relate to as many of them are faced with the responsiblities of an adult at very young ages. The Sign of the Beaver also reveals how first impressions can be reevaluated and friendships can be formed amidst the greatest adversity. I believe this book would be great for any reader, but especially the middle school reader.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By MagnoliaSouth on December 23, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This book was a great suprise for me. A young native boy teaches another "white" boy (living on his own) how to hunt without bullets or rifles, fish without a man made hook, make a bow and arrow, and so much more. A wonderful friendship grows between the boys in a time when friendship of this nature was frowned upon. A wonderful story. This book will be even more exciting for the child who loves the outdoors. We adults will learn quite a thing or two as well.
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Robert James on July 18, 2000
Format: Paperback
Elizabeth George Speare specialized in historical novels foryoung people. "The Sign of the Beaver" is a classic tale of survival in the wilderness, as Matt must fend for himself while his family is gone. An excellent tale of friendship and learning between Matt and the Indian boy Attean, "The Sign of the Beaver" keeps the action going from start to finish. The novel doesn't flinch from facing the fact that the Indians are going to lose the battle for dominance of the land, but neither does it disrespect their culture. I like "The Sign of the Beaver" even better than "The Witch of Blackbird Pond," which has always bothered me a bit because the ending is a little too contrived (every girl ends up happily married, with no loose ends) and the picture of the Puritans is too cold. Any young reader with a hunger for adventure and learning will enjoy "The Sign of the Beaver."
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By homeschooling mom of 6 on December 2, 2004
Format: Paperback
I read this book aloud to my children and we all loved it! It is an exciting tale of life on the frontier from a young boys perspective. It was a story of friendship and survival. I don't see how this book could possibly harm anyone. Reading some other reviews written,they paint an ugly picture of what it was about. There were things that were reality back then that were sad and unfortunate but why make like it didn't happen? The Native Americans in this book were heros. It was great to see how skilled they were in making tools and surviving in the woods. What is wrong with that? I highly recommend this book. My 9 and 8 year olds were hanging on every word and couldn't wait to read again. (Perhaps the environment that the reading took place wasn't good for some of the other readers. I can't figure it out. We never saw the movie either.) It was a great intro to study of native americans. We built a teepee and made bows and arrows and have an even greater respect for the indians. It was a wonderful book that sparks the imagination and truly give the reader a love for the Native American way of life.
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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 3, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The Sign of the Beaver is a great YA novel that will especially appeal to adolescent boys. After settling on their new homestead, Matt's father must return East to bring back his mother, sister, and newborn baby. He leaves thirteen-year-old Matt to care for the place while he is gone, a journey that shoud take less then two months, but ends up being twice that long. Matt has to tend the crops and the house as well as fend for himself when he runs out of supplies to make meals. Along the way, he learns some valuable--and very hard--lessons, such as locking the cabin door carefully and taking care of his Pa's gun. When his luck has almost run out, Matt meets Attean and his grandfather, Indians who befriend him. Attean patiently teaches Matt the ways of the wilderness, and soon the cultural gap between them is bridged. The Sign of the Beaver is an excellent lesson in not only history and pioneer life, but also in the effects of racism and prejudice. This is a great YA novel and an excellent choice for readers of all ages.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Volkert Volkersz on July 28, 2001
Format: Audio Cassette
"The Sign of the Beaver" has been required reading for 5th grade students in our school district for over a decade, and it is one of the required titles that all the students--boys and girls--seem to read with pleasure. Since our 5th grade social studies curriculum covers the settlement and colonial period of American history, this story about Matt's family homesteading in woods of Maine during this period fits in perfectly.
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.
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