The Sign Of The Beaver is a children's novel written by renowned author Elizabeth George Spear. It tells the story of Matt, a resourceful and plucky thirteen year old boy who is left alone by his father to guard their newly-constructed cabin in the wilderness whilst his father returns home to bring the rest of the family back to the cabin. Initially understandably apprehensive, Matt quickly comes to like his life of solitude in the wilderness where he is too busy with daily tasks to feel lonely. After a renegade traveler called Ben tricks Matt into offering him hospitality and steals Matt's gun, the boy realizes that he now has no way of protecting himself or of hunting for food. After a terrifying encounter with a nest of angry bees, Matt is tended back to health by an Indian chief of the Beaver clan. He becomes friends with Attean, the chief's grandson, and through him learns how to survive in the forest, and to understand the Indian heritage and way of like that makes it almost impossible for them to accept and adapt to the white settlers who are coming and taking over their lands.
This novel is both adventure story and historical tool teaching the reader in great detail about life of the settlers and the Indians in the 1700s. The story was inspired by a short anecdote found by the author about a young boy who lived alone in a cabin in Maine for one summer and was befriended by an Indian and his young son. Speare admits that the story she imagined is very different to the one that inspired it but she likes to believe it could have ended this way.
Elizabeth George Speare is one of the nation's most successful children's authors, having twice been awarded the prestigious Newberry Medal. Her books capture the spirit of exploration and survival of early American settlers and always include characters of great determination and strength. Like most of her novels that take place in the north east, Speare has always resided in New England, using the history in her surroundings as the inspiration for her novels.