The Mystery of Drear House: The Conclusion of the Dies Drear Chronicle

Overview

A black family living in the house of long-dead abolitionist Dies Drear must decide what to do with his stupendous treasure, hidden for one hundred years in a cavern near their home.

A black family living in the house of long-dead abolitionist Dies Drear must decide what to do with his stupendous treasure, hidden for one hundred years in a cavern near their home.

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Overview

A black family living in the house of long-dead abolitionist Dies Drear must decide what to do with his stupendous treasure, hidden for one hundred years in a cavern near their home.

A black family living in the house of long-dead abolitionist Dies Drear must decide what to do with his stupendous treasure, hidden for one hundred years in a cavern near their home.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Through young Thomas Small, Hamilton resolves the large questions posed in The House of Dies Drear. Thomas's father is listing the treasures cached in the Underground Railwaytunnels that honeycomb abolitionist Drear's landwhile the boy learns more about the neighboring Darrows from little Pesty Darrow. Thomas feels drawn, too, into a wary rapport with Macky Darrow. Later events involve the Drear caretaker Pluto, Professor Small's grandmother Rhetty and haunting Mrs. Darrow who appears suddenly in a new room in the tunnel. Perhaps no one but Hamilton could invent so thrilling and credible a story about people, sensitively individualized. One feels their relationship symbolizes a treasure to rival the tunnel's fabulous contents. Ages 10-up. (March)
School Library Journal
Gr 5-9 Hamilton returns to characters she created in The House of Dies Drear (Macmillan, 1968)the Small and Darrow families. Young Thomas Small and his family have moved into the home of Dies Drear, an abolitionist whose house was a major stop on the Underground Railroad. In the first book, the family discovered vast underground passages which led to a great treasure cavern beneath their property, containing gold and riches given to escaping slaves to help finance their trips to freedom. In this sequel, they learn more about Drear and his visitors, and they must decide what to do with the treasure, and how best to protect it (and themselves) from the ``sinister'' Darrows, who have searched for the treasure for years. The characters are colorful and delightful, and Hamilton sustains an eerie, suspenseful mood throughout the novel. Although this dank, murky story could stand on its own, the convoluted plot is best understood by those familiar with the first book. Not Hamilton at her very best, but nonetheless a good solid purchase for school and public libraries. Elizabeth M. Reardon, McCallie School, Chattanooga, Tenn.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780590956277
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/1/1997
  • Series: Dies Drear Chronicle Series , #2
  • Pages: 217
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 540L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.32 (w) x 7.62 (h) x 0.49 (d)

Meet the Author

Virginia Hamilton
Virginia Hamilton
Virginia Hamilton’s books, which combined African-American and Native American lore with contemporary stories and characters, are memorable not only for their inventiveness and rich characterizations, but also for their ability to evoke a wide variety of times, places, and historical figures.

Biography

A writer of prodigious gifts, Virginia Hamilton forged a new kind of juvenile fiction by twining African-American and Native American history and folklore with contemporary stories and plotlines.

With Hamilton's first novel, Zeely, the story of a young farm girl who fantasizes that a woman she knows is a Watusi queen, she set the bar high. The book won a American Library Association Notable Children's Book citation. Hamilton rose to her own challenge, and every new book she published enriched American literature to such a degree that in 1995 she was awarded the ALA's Laura Ingalls Wilder Award for lifetime achievement.

Born in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and raised in an extended family of farmers and storytellers (her own father was a musician), Hamilton's work was inspired by her childhood experiences, family mythology, and Ohio River Valley homeland. In an article about the importance of libraries in children's lives, she credits her mother and the "story lady" at her childhood public library with opening her mind to the world of books.

Although she spent time in New York City working as a bookkeeper after college, and traveled widely in Africa and Europe, Hamilton spent most of her life in Yellow Springs, anchored by the language, geography, and culture of southern Ohio. In The House of Dies Drear, she arranged her story around the secrets of the Underground Railroad. In M. C. Higgins, the Great, winner of both a John Newbery Medal and a National Book Award, she chronicled the struggles of a family whose land, and life spirit, is threatened by strip mining. Publishers Weekly called the novel "one of those rare books which draws the reader in with the first paragraph and keeps him or her turning the page until the end."

In her series of folk-tale collections, including The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales, In the Beginning: Creation Stories from Around the World, and Her Stories: African American Folktales, Fairy Tales, and True Tales, Hamilton salvaged and burnished folk tales from cultures across the world for her stories; stories that suffused her fiction with its extraordinary blend of worldly and otherworldly events, enchantment, and modern reality. Virginia Hamilton died on February 19, 2002.

Good To Know

Hamilton's first research trip to a library was to find out more about her family's exotic chickens, which her mother called "rainbow layers," because of the many tints of the eggs they laid.

In 1995, Hamilton became the first children's writer to win a John D. and Catherine C. MacArthur "genius" grant.

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    1. Date of Birth:
      March 12, 1936
    2. Place of Birth:
      Yellow Springs, Ohio
    1. Date of Death:
      February 19, 2002
    2. Place of Death:
      Yellow Springs, Ohio
    1. Education:
      Attended Antioch College, Ohio State University, and the New School for Social Research
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The cool days of October descended upon the region. Thomas Small and his papa had taken to the woods to hunt or hike for hours on the hill above the bleak house of Dies Drear. But then, suddenly, it turned cold. Mr. Small had little free time from teaching at the college. On weekends he cataloged the wealth that had belonged to the long-dead abolitionist Dies Eddington Drear. There was a stupendous treasure hidden for a hundred years in a secret cavern within the hillside. Thomas left his rifle at home. He spent the time playing with his little brothers, or by himself, or with his friend Pesty Darrow.

Today he had on a sweater and his fleece-lined jacket over it. The air was brisk. The Drear house seen from the hilltop reminded him of a giant crow frozen on its nest. He wasn't sure yet whether he liked living in that house. He was usually on his guard. Sometimes he felt something strange was near.

Something unseen but listening behind the Walls, he thought. He wasn't afraid, just wary whenever he was in the house by himself.

Scaring away mean neighbors, Darrow men, before they had the chance to discover the treasure hadn't rid him of the feeling either. But what was the use of worrying? It was his papa's dream to live in a house that had been a station on the Underground Railroad.

Pesty Darrow was with him today. They'd become friends even though she was a Darrow. Darrows had adopted her when she was an infant. Thomas supposed she was loyal to them since they were the only family she'd known.

She's loyal to us, too, hethought, and to Mr. Pluto.

Mr. Pluto had been the caretaker of the Drear house until the Smalls moved in eight months ago. Old Pluto lived in a cave on the other side of the hill. He and Pesty had kept the secret of the great cavern from everyone. Pesty had known about the secret treasure long before Thomas had. She'd kept it from her brothers and her father, even from her youngest brother, Macky, who wasn't as mean or sour as the others.

But how long can she be loyal to two sets of folk who are like day is to night? Thomas wondered. How long before she makes a slip or the older Darrow men figure out there is treasure deep under the hillside?

Darrows had been hunting for hidden treasure in the maze of underground slave escape tunnels of the region's hills for generations.

Papa's worried they will get bold again, Thomas thought, and try some way to get us off Drear lands. He's afraid there might be cave-ins, too.

"Be quicker if we use the backyard of Drear house," Pesty said.

Thomas had to smile. She was talking about the quick way to her home. Whenever they were out tramping together, she would want Thomas to come see her brother. Every now and then she told Macky, "Mr. Thomas wants to see you." Macky snorted and said, "Don't you call no boy mister, Pesty. He's just Thomas, like I am just Macky."

Thomas was careful not to be seen by Darrow men out in the open close to their property. He might overstep their boundary and give them a clear excuse to chase him or to cross the Drear boundary.

Instead of the Drear backyard, he took the longer, out-of-the-way route over the hill because he did want to run into Macky in the woods. He had a vague hope that they might still get to know each other. After school he would see Macky going off in the trees. Lately it seemed that Macky allowed Thomas to catch up with him, almost, before he sauntered away.

Today it had started snowing again. Light snows came now one after the other to the hillside, to the woods and all the land.

"You be glad your grandmom is coming?" Pesty said. "Mr. Pluto told me she was."

"Well, she's not my grandmom," Thomas said as they tramped smartly single file. "She's my great-grand-mother Jeffers. First name is Rhetty. And she's coming to stay. I'm glad of it, too."

"Is she where you used to be?" Pesty asked.

"In North Carolina, yes," he said.

"Do you miss her?"

"Well, it won't feel right here until we're all together again," he said.

"Does she know about the house of Dies Dreat?" Pesty asked.

"Pesty, you haven't told anyone about the you-know-what, have you?" he said, meaning the cavern of treasure.

"No!" she answered.

"Not even Macky. No one?"

"No!" she said. "I haven't told a soul. I wouldn't." But she sounded anxious. Her voice whined uncertainly.

What was it about Pesty lately? Something Thomas couldn't put his finger on. They were together so much, and he thought he knew her well.

On weekends they often helped his father and old Pluto in the great cavern, where they polished the priceless glass. Pesty, who had taken care of the glass from the time she was five or six, suddenly had butterfingers. She'd dropped a glass spoon and a rare nineteenth-century bottle. Both had smashed on the cavern floor.

Now Thomas made a zigzag trail around trees. Snowflakes slapped thinly, like tiny footsteps around them. He was heading east toward the Darrow- and Carr-owned parts of the woods. Carr people had been friendly when Thomas's family first arrived. Their land bordered Darrow's to the south. They bordered Drear lands on Drear's southeast corner. Darrow land was right by Drear lands, bordering them on Darrow's north and west.

Thomas had been thinking so hard he hadn't noticed that Pesty's footsteps had stopped. He recognized an absence suddenly, and he felt lonely for his great-grandmother and the high mountains of home.

The Mystery of Drear House. Copyright © by Virginia Hamilton. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 20, 2008

    5th grader who loves to read

    i liked this book because not only did it teach you a little bit about S.S., it also held a sense of mystery. i think that it had a bit to much info though.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2005

    ALRIGHT!

    This was an alright book. Well, actually my friend read it for our ELA class and she said that it was the worst book she ever read. She said that it nade no sense, until she found out that it was the conclusion. She stil hated it anyway!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2005

    5 thumbs up

    The book was a thriller! I read it in two days. It had me fallin out my bed! Staying up late just to read it. It was interesting. I was just reading it for my reading group. Now I want the book for myself. To keep as my own.That book was so good. There`s so many words to describe it. But I cant write no more. Good Job Virgina Hamliton!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2004

    review for house of dies drear

    i wouldnt say it was my favorite book and i had to read it for school...and it was one of the top 5 books read for school

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2003

    The mystery of drear house

    I think this book has a great ending and is a pretty good book,but I also think it could have been better and it wasn't as good as it sounded.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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