The Sign of the Beaver

13-year-old Matt is left to guard their new homestead when his father heads back to bring Matt’s mom and sister. He fairs up rather well, till he decides to find himself some fresh honey and he’s stung by a hoard of bees. An Indian man and his grandson come to his aid and befriend him. The Grandfather arranges for Matt to give his grandson, Attean English lessons. Matt does the best he can but mostly reads to him from Robinson Crusoe. When they aren’t reading they are out trapping and hunting animals, and Matt learns Indian survival skills. Days turn into months, and still no sign of Matt’s family. Matt is torn when The Indians invite him to join their tribe. Should he stay and wait with the onset of winter? Or should he go with the Indians?

This adventuresome story is a real pleasure to read. It’s a perfect book for boys, who will marvel at Matt and Attean’s wilderness abilities. They fish, hunt, and even kill a bear with the aid of only a knife. There’s a lot here to keep you engrossed in this Newbery honor book. Ask the kids how they would adjust to living on their own? What would life be like with no electricity, no supermarket down the street, no TV or video games to entertain, and if you want to eat you need to catch the food. Yes, life was once very different and very difficult. I think your readers will enjoy this one, and at only 135 pages, makes for a quick read.

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