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The House of Dies Drear Paperback – January 1, 2006

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 11 - 14 years
  • Grade Level: 6 - 9
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Aladdin; Reissue edition (January 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416914056
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416914051
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.9 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (144 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #248,495 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

A huge, old house with secret tunnels, a cantankerous caretaker, and buried treasure is a dream-come-true for 13-year-old Thomas. The fact that it's reputedly haunted only adds to its appeal! As soon as his family moves in, Thomas senses something strange about the Civil War era house, which used to be a critical stop on the Underground Railroad. With the help of his father, he learns about the abolitionists and escaping slaves who kept the Underground Railroad running. While on his own, he explores the hidden passageways in and under the house, piecing clues together in an increasingly dangerous quest for the truth about the past. Newbery medalist Virginia Hamilton creates a heart-pounding adventure with this absorbing classic for older readers. (Ages 9 to 12) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books "A hundred years ago, Dies Drear and two slaves he was hiding in his house, an Underground Railroad station in Ohio, had been murdered. The house, huge and isolated, was fascinating, Thomas thought, but he wasn't sure he was glad Papa had bought it--funny things kept happening, frightening things... The secret of the house is revealed in an exciting final sequence that maintains beautifully the mysterious and dramatic story of a black family caught in an atmosphere of fear and danger. Written with distinction, an imaginiative and imposing book." --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

More About the Author

Virginia Esther Hamilton was born, as she said, "on the outer edge of the Great Depression," on March 12, 1934. The youngest of five children of Kenneth James and Etta Belle Perry Hamilton, Virginia grew up amid a large extended family in Yellow Springs, Ohio. The farmlands of southwestern Ohio had been home to her mother's family since the late 1850s, when Virginia's grandfather, Levi Perry, was brought into the state as an infant via the Underground Railroad.

Virginia graduated at the top of her high-school class and received a full scholarship to Antioch College in Yellow Springs. In 1956, she transferred to the Ohio State University in Columbus and majored in literature and creative writing. She moved to New York City in 1958, working as a museum receptionist, cost accountant, and nightclub singer, while she pursued her dream of being a published writer. She studied fiction writing at the New School for Social Research under Hiram Haydn, one of the founders of Atheneum Press.

It was also in New York that Virginia met poet Arnold Adoff. They were married in 1960. Arnold worked as a teacher, and Virginia was able to devote her full attention to writing, at least until daughter Leigh was born in 1963 and son Jaime in 1967. In 1969, Virginia and Arnold built their "dream home" in Yellow Springs, on the last remaining acres of the old Hamilton/Perry family farm, and settled into a life of serious literary work and achievement.

In her lifetime, Virginia wrote and published 41 books in multiple genres that spanned picture books and folktales, mysteries and science fiction, realistic novels and biography. Woven into her books is a deep concern with memory, tradition, and generational legacy, especially as they helped define the lives of African Americans. Virginia described her work as "Liberation Literature." She won every major award in youth literature.

Customer Reviews

This is an amazing book to read for a short book report.
Olivia Pagan
To begin, the plot unfolds very slowly (all the events in the book take place within a couple of days) and lacks any interesting twists or turns.
L. Toro
My 6th grade students read this in literature class, so I read it.
Sharon Duke

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on March 10, 2004
Format: Paperback
This story is about a boy named Thomas and his family, the Smalls, who move int a new house called Dies Drear. This house was used for slaves who wanted to return to savery or escape from it. Many things happen to them where they point to an old that is mysterious, but for a good reason, as the bad guy. Strange things happen to them while they are there, and it panics them because they are worried that something might happen to their family. Mr. Small, Thomas's father, and Thomas try to find their way through this big secret that they know is being kept from them. Finally they capture the old mysterious man and they find out that he isn't the bad guy at all, he was just trying to protect Dies Drear, because he didn't know whether he could trust the Small's or if they were on the other guy's side. He kept the secret of what the winding tunnels under the house held. Together the old man and the Smalls scare off the bad guys, at least for a little while. The old man now knows and trust that the Smalls will kept the treasure of the tunnels safe, so he doesn't have to protect them any more. That is how the story ends.
I like this book because it has a lot a mysery and history to it, and I thought it was really unique. I am not a book-reader, but I can tell you that this book isn't just for people who like to read books it is definitely for every type of book reader. I hope you decide to read this book, because it is a really great book in my opinion.
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 4, 1999
Format: Turtleback
Virginia Hamilton does a superb job of combining historical facts with mystery. This book is about a boy who moves in to a house that used to be part of the Under Ground Railroad. When Dies Drear, the original owner of the old house, sends 3 slaves on a mission back to slavery to give slaves money to help them escape to freedom the legend begins. 2 of the three slaves were killed, and one fled to the north, the ghosts of the 2 slaves were said to have murdered Dies Drear the very same week. When Thomas's family moves in, Thomas finds out that there is an exquisite network of tunnels that run all through the house... he also finds out that the ghosts of Dies Drear and the 2 slaves are said to haunt the old, gloomy house. When strange things start happening, Thomas begins to beleive that there really are ghosts. Then, one night, while Thomas and his father are determined to find out who-or what is creating these strange happenings,, the mystery starts to unravel. This book got directly to the point, and kept me hooked. I couldn't stop reading this book, it is one of the best books I have ever read, and I would recommend it to anyone-whether you get scared easily, or love horror novels!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Britney Wang on March 18, 2001
Format: Paperback
The House of Dies Drear is an exellent book! A thriller, Thomas Small is a clever 13-year-old black boy who moves from plain farm lands to the wonderous sopposedly haunted house of the lengerdary Underground Railrod wonder Dies Drear. Thomas is a trouble seeker, and boy does he find it! The 1st few chatpers are a big boring, but after that, it's all uphill! Sevret passagways, a haunted groundskeeper Mr. Pluto, and confusion mixed in with it! It is very interesting and it makes you think! There is a lot of background on the Underground Railroad! I can't WAIT to read the sequal, but hopefully the ending of it will be better. Yes, the ending of this book is very... dissapointing! Basicially, everything works out the way that you would think it would, but then it's all downhill from there! But, it is still an exellent book that I would deffinetly reccomned to anyone that likes to read! I loved it, but it could have had a better ending. It's like a mystery... it starts down low, goes up way high, then kind of drags. But still, a thriller! I LOVED IT!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 16, 1999
Format: Paperback
Wow!Best book I ever read!So scary, with a blotch of sorrow.Thomas, a young boy,who's mind is based on Adventure,will discover what it was like for slaves, on the run!His new house, huge, has secrets.He wants to know them as he sees things.Things that cringe,move,and shelter the truth of the house.Meanwhile, his neighbors know the secrets.It's a winding tale of Mystery, Suspense, And Adventure.I rate it 5 stars, two thumbs, and one heaping helping of goodtime laughter!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 31, 1998
Format: Paperback
This is a real mystery and suspense novel with historical overtones and a great choice for October reading lists' "Haunted" category. A Black family relocates from North Carolina to Ohio, when the father accepts a teaching position at a local college. Working for a Foundation which preserves Black history, Mr. Small rents the rambling old house of Dies Drear, a Dutch abolitionist who helped fugitive slaves on their dangerous journey to Canada. Riddled with hidden passageways and secret doors, this old house is protected by local superstition and an irascible caretaker named Mr. Pluto (like Hades, god of the Underworld and Vulcan, the blacksmith).
Young Thomas is captivated by the idea of living in such a house--but also terrified at times--as he learns more about the Underground Railroad. But why is the Black community so reserved towards the new family? They have stumbled into an area of almost-forgotten feuding between hostile neighbors who are obsessed with the idea of finding the legacy of rich Dies Drear: probably hidden treasure. So Thomas must use his brain and his shaky courage to tackle the town nasties who seem committed to driving his family from the place. He also has to cope with two snoopy neighbor kids, his father's reluctance to reveal all he knows, and the indifference of the house itself. Because Thomas and his father intend to stay and to make a real difference, despite someone's agenda of Hate.
Thomas is too spunky to remain cowed for long, nor will he permit the house force his family into surrender; he certainly will not let that Mr. Pluto scare him off with his tricks. The Smalls are here to stay! If only the house at least were on their side.
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