The Sign of the Beaver

Author: Elizabeth George Speare

ISBN: 9780440779032
Pages: 135
Description: It’s the time of the American Revolution and new Americans like Matt and his family are heading out to colonize areas of virgin territory.

Matt and his father head to Maine territory to stake their claim, which involves declaring their land, building a home and planting crops. Once they’ve accomplished this, Matt’s father is tasked with returning to their home town in Massachusetts to gather Ma, younger sister Sarah, and the new baby, so they may start their lives together in their new home.

In order for Pa to travel to retrieve the rest of the family, he must leave behind Matt to protect their claim.

And poor Matt is only 13, when he realizes that He was alone, with miles of wilderness stretching on every side.

He’s alone, without a good dog (theirs has died), and his only gun is stolen by a sketchy trapper in one of the very first chapters.


Indians are around, and they’re both bitter and bemused by this lonely white boy, defending his wood and mud castle. They have awful lines, like, “Me no see ‘um like white man do.”

But there’s a dog in the story (owned by the Indian boy) and a fox and a bear, and you can’t help but cheer for young Matt, because, frankly, he’s been put in a lousy position.

This was a read aloud at our house, a special treat for my 10-year-old (without her 7-year-old sister—much arguing ensued!!), and she’s an animal NUTTER, so the dog alone captured her interest.

I’m a dog nut myself, and I own “only” three, because I can’t afford to feed more than three the way I do (organic and free range food), but I would own ten if I could. No, I’m not kidding, if I had more money or more land (or staff), I’d happily own 10 dogs.

So. . . the realization of how crucial it was to own a dog hit me hard in this story. I can’t even imagine being out in the woods with the bears and stinky humans without a loyal dog.

The moral to the story: a good dog is hard to find.
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