The Sign of the Beaver, by Elizabeth George Speare, is one of many books that I read this summer. The first 3 chapters were not the greatest, but after that I could not stop reading. It took me one day to read this 130 page book and 1 hour to write this, I wrote everything myself without any help!
The main character, Matt, was left alone, by his father, to guard the new log house they had built in the woods. Matt’s father had to bring back his sister and his mother and Matt had to stay and guard the log house because that was their only place to live. Matt is left with his father’s gun to use for protection and hunting. But a stranger came and Matt was nice and let him stay in the cabin, the stranger’s name was Ben. When Matt woke up Ben had stolen Matt’s gun. The loss of his gun meant that Matt had to begin figuring out how to take care of himself in the wilderness.
Hunger finally drives Matt to raid a bee’s nest in the hope of finding honey. Matt stuck his hand into the beehive and the bees swarmed. Matt ran and dove into a lake, trying to save himself. He got many stings, fainted and woke up to find two unusual people standing in front of him. He got a better look, and discovered they were Indians!
Matt learns that the familiar looking stranger, Ben, could not be trusted, but the unfamiliar and frightening Indians save his life. Matt trusted the Indians and wanted them to help him. One of the Indians is a boy of the same age as Matt, Attean. Attean’s grandfather arranges for Attean to help Matt in exchange for teaching Attean to read. However, Attean is very disdainful of Matt, because Attean was forced to go to the reading lessons by his grandfather. Every day he had to bring Matt meat, or some honey or just something to help Matt survive. Attean also didn’t like Matt because Attean thought that white men were dumb and also were taking the Indian’s land. Matt wanted Attean to be friends with him, after a little while Matt’s wish came true!
One day Matt and Attean are almost attacked by a bear. Together they manage to save themselves and kill the bear. Matt is surprised to see that Attean says a prayer to the soul of every animal that they hunt and kill for food, including the bear. Attean explains that he wants to tell God that he meant no harm, and the bear could have killed them, so they killed the bear.
Matt longed to be able to do something that would help Attean. One day he got the chance. Attean has a beloved but mangy dog that can’t hunt or do anything but follow Attean around. Another tribe in the woods used metal traps to catch animals. Attean’s dog became trapped in one and Matt tried to save it. Matt tried to open the trap, but the dog didn’t really know Matt so it growled. Matt left and got Attean’s sister because Attean was hunting. Attean’s sister put a blanket over the dog and distracted the dog while Matt opened the trap. After that the dog loved Matt and Matt wondered if the dog actually had memory of Matt saving him. Through their experiences with one another, Matt and Attean became like brothers, even Attean’s grandmother and tribe began to accept Matt.
I liked this book because it was about surviving in the wild and instead of just surviving in the wild Matt also made friends with the Indians. I really liked the end because I thought Matt’s father and his family would never come back but they did! Sadly the new baby died on the way, it only lived 5 days.
I learned many things from this book. If I get lost in the woods without anything but my clothes I would remember the things Attean taught Matt. For example, I could try to make a shelter, I could try to make a knife and hunt for food or I can find a pointy stick, go to a pond, and then try to catch a fish. I also learned to respect nature and the souls of animals. Attean believed that the animals could understand him when he spoke to them. Most importantly, I learned one must establish a relationship with someone before you can tell if you can trust him and if they are worthy of being your friend, or brother.
This is an excellent and informative book review. I liked reading about the characters and their challenges. Thank you, Reid!