Sunday, March 30, 2008

THE SIGN OF THE BEAVER (Genre: Historical Fiction/module 6)

Bibliographic Information:
Title: The Sign of the Beaver
Author: Elizabeth George Speare/ read by Greg Schaffert
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication Date: July 1984
ISBN: 9780440479000
Format: Audio Book CD 3 hours 10 mins (3 CDs)

This book about a twelve year old boy, Matt, is set in the wilderness of Maine during the late 1780s. Matt and his father establish a homestead for the family, including Matt's mother and siblings, however Matt's father must return to fetch the remainder of the family. Left to face the wilds alone with an heirloom family timepiece and a shot gun, Matt faces many challenges. Losing the gun to a drifter, the crops to local wildlife, and his rations to a bear, Matt takes opts to raid a bee hive in order to add honey to his diet. His failed attempt results only in multiple bee stings and during the attack, Matt sprains his ankle while diving into the river, only to be saved by the local savages, some Native Americans who offer him assistance. In return Matt offers his only book, Robinson Crusoe, but Attean, the young Penobscot native, does not know how to read English. In exchange for food, Matt offers to to teach Attean how to read. The two establish an unlikely friendship, which lasts several months. Forced to choose between his new found friends or waiting for his family, Matt must decide between guaranteed survival and his family. The book offers a very realistic view of the expectations for a young man in the late eighteenth century as well as an historically accurate portrayal of individuals in that part of the country at that time. The audio recording is entertaining; the reader truly puts enthusisasm into the book and encourages listening.

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