"The Sign of the Beaver" by Elizabeth George Speare follows 12-year-old Matt as he tries to survive in the Maine wilderness and learns how to hunt from Penobscot Indians. The story is also about the growing friendship between Matt and an Indian boy, Attean.
The book, "The Sign of the Beaver" is set in the wilderness of Maine around the year 1768. At the beginning of the book the Matt watches his father trudge into the forest, as he heads back to Quincy, Massachusetts, to pick up Matt's mother and the rest of the family. Together Matt and his father built a cabin on their newly acquired land and Matt is left behind to guard it. They both think that he will be gone about seven weeks, but it turns out to be much longer.
During the time Matt spends guarding the cabin, he struggles to survive. A stranger takes his gun. He is attacked by a bear and later by a swarm of bees. Two Penobscot Indians, Saknis and his son, Attean, save Matt from the bee swarm.
Saknis asks Matt to teach his son, Attean how to read and other ways of his people. In exchange, they help him learn how to hunt and survive in the wild. Matt and Saknis grow to become friends. As the story climaxes, Matt must consider whether or not to join the Penobscot Indians as they migrate North for the Winter or stay behind and wait for his family.