Sign of the Beaver


Matt’s father leaves their wilderness cabin with the promise that he will return. Until then, the 12-year-old boy knows that he must bravely fend for himself. Time passes without a sign of his father and Matt nearly dies when he disturbs a bee hive.

Thankfully, Attean, a First Nations teen and his father, the chief, rescue him in the nick of time. A lot of time passes and eventually Matt teaches Attean how to speak English and Attean teaches Matt how to hunt.

Realizing that the boy’s father will probably never return, the chief asks him to join the tribe. Should Matt leave his old life as a white settler child behind and start fresh as a Penobscot?

  • 144 pages
  • Ages: 8-12
SKU: 9780547577111 Categories: , Tags: ,


When Matt’s father goes to fetch his mother and siblings from Quincy, Massachusetts, he leaves Matt alone on their new homestead in Maine.

Before long, Matt has met a few people, and forms a significant relationship with Attean, a Penobscot boy, and his grandfather. The grandfather’s original intent is for Matt to teach Attean to read, but before long it becomes clear that Attean is the teacher rather than Matt, and that without the input of Attean and his grandfather, Matt’s survival would have been much more precarious.

This book is set in 1768, at a time when Maine was still a “frontier.” Since this book was written in 1983 you will not find it updated with current names and terms. Even though this book is 35 years old, it is entirely appropriate for our present day. There is no glorifying Matt’s culture and there is no belittling of Attean’s. Rather, Speare clearly presents a people who have adapted to the harshness of their climate, and whose way of life is being gradually destroyed.

In this series

Additional information

Weight .114 kg
Dimensions 19.4 × 13.1 × 1.0 cm

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