The Sign of the Beaver: Summary & Author

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  • 0:03 ''The Sign of the…
  • 1:59 Elizabeth George Speare
  • 2:55 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Abby Federico

Abby has taught elementary special education and has her master's degree in this area.

'The Sign of the Beaver' is a historical fiction novel written in 1983 by Elizabeth George Speare. This lesson will give a brief summary of the book, then discuss the author, her other works, and her accomplishments.

The Sign of the Beaver Summary

Have you ever been left alone to take care of your house while your parents, grandparents, or siblings were away? Can you imagine being left alone in the middle of the wilderness for an entire summer? That's what happened to the main character in The Sign of the Beaver, by Elizabeth George Speare.

This historical fiction book is set in 1769 in the wilderness of Maine. The story has four main characters: Matt Hallowell, Matt's father, Attean, and Saknis. Matt and his father are white settlers, while Saknis and Attean are Native Americans. Saknis is the leader of the Beaver clan, which lives in the area where Matt's father chose to build their home. At this time in history, there were many conflicts between white settlers and Native Americans

Matt's father leaves Matt at the home they had built in Maine to travel to Massachusetts to get Matt's mother and sister. Matt's father will be gone all summer, and Matt will have to protect their home and survive on his own. Matt is just 13 years old. He has to face some problems, including a man who steals his father's rifle, their cabin getting invaded by bears, and getting stung badly by bees. He also lives in fear of attacks by Native Americans.

On the day Matt gets the bad bee stings, he jumps into a lake and is struggling to breathe when someone pulls him out. The person who saved him was Saknis. Saknis helps him recover, then later brings his grandson Attean to Matt's cabin. They come to an agreement that Attean will hunt food for Matt, and in return, Matt will teach Attean to read. The relationship between Matt and Attean starts off strained, but eventually the two become friends. Attean teaches Matt survival skills that he will need in the wilderness, such as trapping, fishing, and hunting.

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