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January 1, 2011

The House of Dies Drear

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The House of Dies Drear

 

Author: Virginia Hamilton

 

Page Length: 279

 

Reading Level: 6

 

Genre: Historical Fiction

PLOT SUMMARY: At first Thomas isn’t too thrilled about moving away again. He likes being near his grandmother; but, when his dad begins dropping hints about the mysterious new house he has in mind, Thomas’s interest is piqued. Soon he learns of the legend of Dies Drear. Drear was a landowner known for helping slaves along the route to freedom through the Underground Railroad. Drear and two of the three slaves he had been hiding were found murdered. Thomas learns of the great past of the house, its secret tunnels, and its mysterious secretive caretaker. Thomas’s new home is thought to be haunted. Strange things begin to happen. Vandalism occurs. And, Thomas is caught up in a plot to find the culprits and preserve the legend of Dies Drear and the great history the house represents before it falls into the hands of the wrong people.

REVIEW: This book is an excellent look at slavery issues, the Underground Railroad, and prejudice and hatred among the uneducated. Historically, the author does a great job of giving young adults an understanding of the abolitionist era. The story is action packed and full of mysterious events that will keep the reader guessing and turning the page to find out the resolution to the story.

AREAS FOR TEACHING:  sequence of events, cause and effect, character traits, making predictions, analogies, historical context, context clues

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: issues of prejudice, vandalism, bigotry

RELATED BOOKS: M.C. Higgins, the Great, Second Cousins, Bluish, Zeely, The Planet of Junior Brown

SLAVERY RELATED BOOKS: 47, Dear Austin, The Land, Nightjohn, Kip: His Story, Bull Run, To Be A Slave, Harriet Tubman Conductor of the Underground Railroad

MOVIE CONNECTIONS: Gone With the Wind (1939)

RELATED WEBSITES:

http://score.rims.k12.ca.us/activity/diesdrear/

http://www.glencoe.com/sec/literature/litlibrary/pdf/house_of_dies_drear.pdf

http://www.leasttern.com/DiesDrear/diesdrear.htm

http://gorman.region14.net/webs/tkeith/the_house_of_dies_drear_unit.htm

http://www.multcolib.org/talk/guides-house.html

REVIEWED BY: Dayna Taylor

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