The Sign of the Beaver

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The Sign of the Beaver
The Sign of the Beaver.jpg
First edition
AuthorElizabeth George Speare
CountryUnited States
GenreChildren's historical novel
PublisherHoughton Mifflin
Publication date
February 1983
Media typePrint (Hardback & Paperback) & Audio Book
LC ClassPZ7.S7376 Si 1983
Preceded byThe Prospering 

The Sign of the Beaver is a children's historical novel by American author Elizabeth George Speare, which has won numerous literary awards. It was published in February 1983, and has become one of her most popular works.

The idea for this book came from a factual story that Elizabeth George Speare discovered in Milo, Maine[1] about a young boy who was left alone for a summer in the wilderness and was befriended by a Native American, named Attean, and his grandfather.[2] The novel has been adapted into a television film titled Keeping the Promise.


The Sign of the Beaver tells the story of a 13-year-old boy, Matt James Hallowell, and his father, who, as early settlers, together build a log cabin in the wilderness of 18th-century Maine in North America. Matt is left alone to guard the cabin and his family's claim to the land while his father heads back to Quincy, Massachusetts to pick up his mother, sister and their new baby and bring them back to the cabin. Matt learns how to survive and deal with difficult situations without the guidance of his father. Still alone, Matt gets the help from a Native American named Attean. Attean and his family help Matt survive until his father comes back. But when his family seemed to disappear and don't return, Attean asked Matt to join the Beaver tribe and move north, is Matt really going to abandon his family in order to join the Beavers?



  1. ^ Library Thing. "The Survival Story". Archived from the original on 2014-02-02. Retrieved 26 Jan 2014.
  2. ^ McCarthy, Tara (2002). Literature Circle Guide: The Sign of the Beaver. New York, NY: Scholastic. p. 9. ISBN 0-439-35542-7.
  3. ^ Bank Street College of Education. "The Children's Book Committee: Past Award Winners (1943-2007)". Archived from the original on December 2, 2009. Retrieved 30 Nov 2009.
  4. ^ Library Thing. "Book awards: Christopher Award". Retrieved 30 Nov 2009.
  5. ^ a b c d e "Sign of the Beaver Lesson Plan". Retrieved 30 Nov 2009.
  6. ^ a b c d Random House. "Teacher Guide: Sign of the Beaver". Retrieved 30 Nov 2009.
  7. ^ Horn Book Fanfare. "Hornbook Fanfare's Best Books of the Year 1980s". Archived from the original on 2009-10-12. Retrieved 30 Nov 2009.
  8. ^ Scott O'Dell. "Winners of the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction". Archived from the original on 2009-12-06. Retrieved 30 Nov 2009.
  9. ^ "Young Hoosier Book Award History". Archived from the original on 1 August 2012. Retrieved 30 Nov 2009.