Least Tern > English Class > MS Fiction
The House of Dies Drear
by Virginia Hamilton
This study guide was created
for Middle School
by Elizabeth Sky-McIlvain
Reading Questions | Related Web Sites & Other Resources | Vocabulary | Character & Concept maps | For the Teacher
click triangle sections below to follow links
Reading Questions ~ By clicking the triangle, you will find reading & discussion questions and short writing topics for each section of the novel. These are meant for teachers and for students reading the novel independently. Students reading the novel in class should use the following links to a different set of questions:
Chapters 12-19 - Take home quiz
Cloze Reading #1 - Harriet Tubman
Cloze Reading #2 - Dies Drear Chapter 3
Reading Passage #1 - Underground RR
Reading Passage #2 - Frederick Douglass
Reading Passage #3 - Puddin'head Wilson by Mark Twain
Writing Assignments related to reading - to be completed after the book has been completed.
Two Assignments : The first contrasts Alice's fall into the rabbit hole with Thomas's fall into the tunnel. The second is a creative assignment describing a dream.
Additional synthesis assignments: Themes, Motives, Conflicts, Secrets
Character and Concept Maps ~ Click the triangle to study or print the character & concept maps made 6th grade students. Students reading the novel independently should complete one of the additional exercises.
Related Web Sites ~ Click the triangle to find links to web sites and other resources which will help you to learn more about the author, the novel, and the historical background of the story.
Vocabulary ~ Click the triangle to find a word list for the book, by chapter and page.
These Vocabulary and Detail crosswords can be completed online or printed and completed by hand.
Drear Vocabulary Crossword, Chapters 1-3
Drear Vocabulary 1-29 - Matching Exercise
Vocabulary test #1 - retake it! (a Word .doc file)
Sites & Other Resources
It is recommended that you start a web search at: www.google.com
Virginia Hamilton ~
Biography - and resources
Virginia Hamilton homepage
Historical Background ~ Do your research in Encarta for the keywords in red. All of these topics can be searched online. You might select BJ Pinchbeck as your starting point, rather than a search engine. If you do not know how to do a multimedia search in Encarta, please find out before you begin.
Slavery in the United States:
- Primary documents from the Avalon Project
- The Encyclopedia of Slavery - short articles on people and general topics
- This Collection Connection from the American Memory collection at the Library of Congress focuses on the African-American Experience in Ohio. It contains background information that will enrich your reading of the novel.
A timeline of Black History
Elijah Anderson - Use Edit-find to locate the information about Elijah Anderson on this Kentucky's Underground Railroad page.
Harriet Tubman - see also the general links above
The Civil Rights Movement in the United States - Voices of the Civil Rights Era
Life in America in the time of Dies Drear - see United States History, Sectional Rivalries in the Encarta and follow the general links to Slavery topics above.
- A short introduction to the antislavery movement with links to further information and biographies
- from About.com, links to short biographies and other topics
The French Renaissance - see France, Renaissance in Encarta and the links under Objects below.
About the Novel ~ Web links are underlined~ Do your research in Encarta for the keywords in red.
Make a map of the drive from Asheville, NC to BlueField, WV, then to Yellow Springs, OH - Blue Ridge Parkway
Architectural features ~ what the house might have looked like
Animals ~ bobwhite quail - picture and call, gerfalcon or gyrfalcon or falcon
Plants ~ mullein weed and a picture, Ohio trees, hyacinth, fern, catalpa tree, chicory
Natural phenomena ~ limestone, mineral springs, stalactites and stalagmites in Ohio Caverns, and another photo, resin
Objects from the novel ~ Mr. Pluto's buggy, a bellows - see Forging in Encarta, a captain's chair, Greek cross, monk's cloth, stovepipe hat, high-button shoes, Pesty's bonnet, totem pole, French Renaissance furniture & art - see Interior Design/Red Drawing Room and Reception Room - see also Furniture/French Baroque and here for a desk similar to that in the novel, Persian carpets - see Rugs and Carpets, hand blown glass and also illustrations, penicillin, natural medicines, picket fence, turpentine
Other ~ topics in red can easily be researched in Encarta ~ Internet links are underlined
Go Down Moses (lyrics) & other hymns - see Gospel Music and Hymns
Baptist religion, Methodism and African Methodist Episcopal Church, Presbyterian
Tuscarora, Algonquin, Mohegan
We Wear the Mask - see Paul Laurence Dunbar - & other poems
Pluto, god of the Underworld
by chapter & page
(all page numbers are for the Aladdin Paperbacks edition, 1968)
You are required to know spelling,
pronunciation and the stressed syllable for each word.
You must be able to define the word as it is used in the novel. You may copy the definition from your dictionary.
You must write your own sentence for each word.
|Chapter 1||Chapter 2||Chapter 3|
|1||resin, turpentine||15||subdued, relic||29||gloom, lurch|
|2||whittle, spew||16||concealment||30||murky, loom|
|5||craven, chicory||19||plunder, Selah, bounty hunter||33||opaque|
|7||gable, verandah||24||caretaker, cloven||34||pathetic, mansard roof, eaves|
|11||desolation, idly||26||bay, roan, agile||36||quatrefoil|
|39||tureen, hearth, wary|
Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 47 serene 61 solemn, gaping 78 jowls 83 menacing, threshold 54 sod 62 brackish 80 rounder 85 cordial, shifty 58 forlorn 63 varicolored 86 pose 59 hew 68 commotion, crestfallen 87 hobble 71 meander, pry 88 specter 72 furrows
Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10 99 varnished 108 hoecakes 127 refuge, stifled, runagate 100 ajar 113 progression 132 hawk-eyed, shrewd,
101 clammy, cumbersome 116 accumulate, intruder 133 to gauge, standoffish 104 stealthily, ornate, parlor,
117 confide 134 clannish, frayed 105 vapor, to skirt, metallic 119 fondly 135 lulled 120 tulle 137 congregation 121 endure, sinister 139 drone 122 incline 140 sheer, malice, grave 142 bemused, milled around
Chapter 11 Chapter 12 Chapter 13 146 aloofness 164 sprawling 174 hillock 148 dispense with, garret, glumly 167 tread 175 sconce 150 vicious 169 dread 176 eerie, scoundrel, recoil 158 meander 178 forge, 160 rednecks
Chapter 14 Chapter 15 Chapter 16 184 sentinel, stupendous, cavern 202 awe 215 anguish 185 veneered 203 obsessed, fanatical 218 reprimand 186 tapestries, fleetingly, amassed 204 heritage, zeal 223 peeved 187 interspersed, prism 206 mortal, plunder, whim 224 uproariously 188 hues, winch, murky,
207 prophet 225 in unison 189 curator, oblong 208 venture 190 ledger, barter, dumbly, vaguely 210 vandal 192 ruse, legacy 194 rasp 195 probe, withering 196 phantasm
Chapter 17 Chapter 18 Chapter 19 226 shroud 246 phosphorus 267 vaulted 228 cherish, squatter 247 gossamer 268 inventory 229 premonition 248 menacingly 272 legacy 231 inkling, dank 249 to fidget 240 bushel, splendor, remote 251 prospect, apparition, grim 241 legitimate, steadfastness 254 stealthily 258 translucent, muffled, husky 259 specter, tormentor 260 malice
For the Teacher:
These materials were produced for a 6th grade laptop classroom. They assume familiarity with Internet searching and downloading, the availability of an online or CD encyclopedia (Encarta is specified, but any one will do), and word processing skills. Concept and Character Mapping can be done in Word, AW, on paper or in any other medium. If you have Inspiration, however, it is the best.
This novel follows nicely after Alice in Wonderland and nicely precedes Haroun.
The reading questions, study questions, take home quiz, and writing assignment may be printed or downloaded and adapted.
Tests for the novel are available to teachers. Please contact Least Tern.
Elizabeth Sky-McIlvain 5/12/03