Monday, November 30, 2009

The Sign of the Beaver by Elizibeth Goerge Speare

Matt has been left with a big job: taking care of the cabin while his dad gets Mom, the new baby, and Matt's little sister. This historical fiction novel starts off with slightly resigned goodbye when Matt's dad leaves Matt with two gifts: a rifle, that gets stolen by a stranger after Matt's dad leaves, and a watch. When a bear steals Matt's honey maybe two weeks after the parting, Matt climbs a bee-tree and gets stung, only to be saved from drowning in a pond by an Native American, an old man who makes a deal with Matt in return for saving him. Matt teaches the man's grandson who is around the same age as Matt how to read English! They don't really become friends until Matt saves the dog that Attean (the boy) owns, winning Attean's grandmother's respect too, but they go hunting and learning (on Matt's part) together. But then they part for a time while Attean goes out to find his "manitou", the spirit that comes to inhabit him to make him a man and a hunter that Attean believes in.

But the worst is when they say they have to leave. Matt is so sad he almost accepts they're offer to come with and be a brother of Attean, an honor so high for a white boy he can barely believe it, but he has faith that his family will come, so he has to stay. His strength paid off when his family really does come back, minus the baby. It died three days into the journey.

I think this is kind of a morbid ending but it all pretty much ends well, with Matt's family back, and I think the tribe will eventually check on Matt, perhaps three months after the book ends. The entire book spanned for a little less than a year, but three months seems pretty much like when they would come. I just feel like that tribe really is sort of the kind of tribe that would do that.

~Condensed story 2

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