The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Spears tells the story of young Matt left alone in the Maine wilderness to guard his family’s cabin from savage Indians until his father returns with his mother, sister, and the new baby. Matt keeps busy tending the corn and sparingly using his father’s gun to keep himself fed and busy.
Soon, the loneliness sets in and a series of events leaves him short on food staples and without only means of hunting. Matt without any likelihood of survival is helped by Saknis and his grandson Attean, members of a local Indian tribe. Matt owes a great debt to Saknis and agrees to help Attain learn to read. This relationship changes both boys as they turn into men. Matt’s expectations are never met when it comes to the generosity and kindness of Attean’s family and he does his best to return their friendship.
I read this with a group of third graders who were able to understand how friendships can cross all sort of boundaries. It may have been a bit difficult for some of the readers, but for those who understand some of the deeper meanings, it was a joy to hear them talk about it.
Read May 2018