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26 August 2011

Book Review The Sign of the Beaver

The Sign of the BeaverThe Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Speare was the it-thing in children's literature in the late 50s; between 1957 and 1961 she published three books, two of which won the Newbery.  Then she took 20 years off.

The Sign of the Beaver was her return, in 1983, and it, too, won awards (a Newbery Honor citation, the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction, and the Christopher Award).  But I didn't want to read it because I never liked her other books when I was a kid.

This one I liked, though, which makes me wonder if I would, now, like The Witch of Blackbird Pond  Guess there's only one way to find out.

A well-told story with economical prose and likable characters; a boy left alone in the barely settled wilderness in the 1760s while the father goes back east to retrieve the rest of the family.  The boy's gun is stolen by an itinerant traveler but he survives with the help of a boy from a local tribe, who grudgingly teaches him the ways of the natives while the boy tries to teach him to read.  One of those stories that, as a mother, makes me shiver and shake my head but, as a child-at-heart makes me want to develop the same pluck and bravery I see in the characters.

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