Twelve year-old Matt and his father have come to Maine territory to clear land and build a home for their family. After the two of them build a log cabin, Matt's father returns to Massachusetts to bring back the rest of the family: Matt's mother, his sister, and a new baby. While his father is gone, Matt stays alone in the cabin to guard their home and care for the corn. Matt knows that he will get lonely without his father and his family, but he expects to enjoy his independence and freedom. What he does not expect, however, is the arrival of a white stranger who is both friendly and treacherous. When the stranger disappears - along with his father's gun - Matt now faces much greater danger, and discovers the challenge of acquiring enough food for himself without a gun. After a series of mishaps leaves Matt dependent on the tribe of neighboring Indians, he discovers the problems of communicating with, depending upon, and understanding people from a different culture. The Indian boy, Attean, will teach Matt ways to survive and what true friendship is.
Newbery Medal Honor • California Young Reader Nominee • Josette Frank Award • Christopher Award • Booklist Editors' Choice • Horn Book Fanfare • Scott O'Dell Award • ALA Notable Children's Book • ALA Best BookYA • Young Hoosier nominee • NYTimes Best Book.