The Sledding Hill

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Billy Bartholomew has an audacious soul, and he knows it. Why? Because it's all he has left. He's dead.

Eddie Proffit has an equally audacious soul, but he doesn't know it. He's still alive.

These days, Billy and Eddie meet on the sledding hill, where they used to spend countless hours -- until Billy kicked a stack of Sheetrock over on himself, breaking his neck and effectively hitting tilt on his Earthgame. The two were inseparable friends. They still are. And Billy is not about to let a little thing like death stop him from hanging in there with Eddie in his epic struggle to get his life back on track.

Curriculet Details
27 Questions
36 Annotations
3 Quizzes

This free digital curriculum for high school students contains interactive videos exploring irony, structure, point of view, protagonists/antagonists, and simile/metaphor, as well as annotations clarifying references, adding background information, and introducing students to related music and poetry. Students will explore the themes of intellectual freedom, death, and resistance against authority. The Common Core aligned questions, answers and quizzes in this free online unit will increase student engagement in the book while supporting reading comprehension.

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Did you notice the dedication a few pages back? This book is dedicated to Zach Clifton, a young man who was tragically killed. The author, Chris Crutcher, explains his relationship to Zach: "He was this kid in Illinois who just loved Whale Talk and took the novel and condensed it for his debate team. He was going to deliver it at the state competition until he died. I was going to Anderson's (a bookshop in Naperville, Illinois) for a signing and Becky Anderson called me to tell me this debate team was coming to give me a copy of the thing Zack had written that he had planned to deliver at state. They buried this kid with a copy of Whale Talk." (Whale Talk is the name of another of the author's books). As you continue reading, consider why Crutcher might have dedicated this particular book to Zach. 
Considering what you now know about the dedication, why might the narrator say that he "was" Billy Bartholomew (in the past tense), rather than that he is Billy Bartholomew? 
As you can see in the image below, the northern tip of Idaho (the setting for this novel) is very close to Canada. (This annotation contains an image)
Picasso is known for painting facial features in unlikely arrangements, as in the painting below named "Francois, Claude and Paloma." (This annotation contains an image)
In what ways do Eddie and his mom Evelyn react differently to the death of Eddie's father? Summarize the reaction of each in your own words. 
Did you know that you can look up any word in the text of the book or the text of the questions and answers? Just click (or press on mobile devices) the word you want to define and hold until the blue text selector pops up. When you release, a define option will appear. Since it's so easy to look up words, make sure you use this feature frequently... You can begin with "formulate," if you are not familiar with this word! 


The narrator is referring to a popular idea that the soul of a person weighs 21 grams. Watch the short video below for an explanation of where this idea comes from. (This annotation contains a video)
Using 4-6 sentences, please compare the poem "Writing in the Afterlife" to The Sledding Hill. How does each text represent the afterlife? (In other words, how does each explain or imagine what happens after we die)? What similarities and differences between the two texts do you see? 
Please follow the link below and read the poem "Writing in the Afterlife" by Billy Collins in preparation for the question that follows. Read the poem carefully, considering how it represents the afterlife. (This annotation contains a link)
Use the dictionary feature to examine the two definitions of the word "religiously." Based on what you find, which definition is most accurate in this case, and why is this phrase a "pun"? 
Below is a painting of this famous story of Moses parting the Red Sea. (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following themes has come up in this chapter and is primarily related to Eddie? 


When Billy says it isn't really him, this seems to suggest that Eddie is only imagining that he sees Billy's body (hallucinations such as these can happen in times of stress or grief). Yes, Billy is dead and is watching Eddie, but Billy is not trying to appear to Eddie, at least not yet. 
Based on this section, the phrase "turn into the slide" represents 


When Billy refers to Eddie's "windows" being "slammed" and "shut" and "nailed," he does not mean the literal windows of his house. He is referring (metaphorically) to the "windows" of opportunity to communicate with Eddie directly. 
In the highlighted section, structurally, the author is alternating between Tarter's speech and Eddie's thoughts. What effect does this structure have? 
Please watch the video below on structure in preparation for the question that follows. (This annotation contains a video)
Stephen King is an extremely popular contemporary author whose novels center on horror, suspense, science fiction, and fantasy. Many of his books have been turned into movies, such as The Shining, Carrie, and The Shawshank Redemption. (This annotation contains an image)
Eddie is looking for a way to feel "safe." In what way did he find safety by being silent? And how does he think that being baptized might make him feel safe? Please respond in 2-4 sentences. As you continue to read, notice how Eddie and other characters seek safety in the novel. 


In other words, a name that rhymes with "trucker." You can probably figure it out! Crutcher, the author, is careful not to use profane words in this novel (he sometimes does in other novels) because he doesn't want to give anyone an excuse to censor or ban this book. 
The highlighted sentence suggests that 
"Wild horses" is short for the expression "Wild horses couldn't stop me." Billy's dad is basically saying that no one (not even wild horses) could get him to give up Eddie's secret. 


So far, the sledding hill (the title of this book) is an important place in the novel because  
Mensa is a membership society for people whose IQ scores are in the top two percent of the population. Click the link below if you're interested in learning more about Mensa. (This annotation contains a link)
Please watch the video below on point of view in preparation for one of the quiz questions that follows. (This annotation contains a video)
Quiz Chapters 1-6 


Which of the authors on this list stands out as unlike the others? 


Scientists estimate that there are around 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 planets in the universe! 
What does the narrator mean when he says, "Together they also lend new meaning to the term 'slam dunk'"? What is the "slam dunk" he is referring to? Explain your answer in 2-4 sentences, using the context of the previous few pages to help you. 


Notice how Tarter calls Eddie "Edward." He seems to be the only character who does so. Consider what this might suggest about their relationship or about Tarter's personality. 
Lizzie Borden (pictured below) was an American woman who was accused of murdering her father and stepmother with an axe in 1892 in Fall River, Massachusetts. Jack the Ripper is the name given to the unidentified serial killer who wreaked havoc in London in 1888. (This annotation contains an image)
In the story, Tarter is best described as  
Please watch the video below on protagonists and antagonists in preparation for the question that follows. (This annotation contains a video)
Alex Trebek is the host of the TV show "Jeopardy," in which questions are given in the form of answers, and answers are given in the form of questions. (This annotation contains an image)
Choose either the theme of homosexuality or the theme of religion/spirituality, and write about what you think the book is suggesting about that theme. In other words, what is the book's message, so far, regarding that theme or topic? Please use 3-5 sentences, and keep in mind that for this question, you are considering what the book is suggesting about the theme, not your own opinions or ideas about the theme. 


Billy's dad is referring to the 1812 Overture by Tchaikovsky. Click the link below, and skip to minute 12:00, where you will hear why he chose this piece as an example of a loud piece of music! Note: you might want to have your volume only halfway :). (This annotation contains a video)
Use the dictionary feature to examine the two meanings of the word "testify." Based on the context in which this word has been used in the novel so far, which of these definitions is more accurate in this case? What is Eddie expected to do when he "testifies"? (In other words, what will he be "testifying" about?) Please respond in 2-4 sentences. 


To "wax poetic" is to write or speak in an increasingly poetic manner. 
Click the link below to explore the website Dan is referring to. (This annotation contains a link)
Dan's comment (highlighted) is an example of _________ because the reader knows that this very book has a dead narrator as well, but Dan, a character in this book, is not aware of this. 
Please watch the video below on irony in preparation for the question that follows. (This annotation contains a video)
By having his narrator consider writing a book about Eddie, when he is in fact the narrator in a book about Eddie, Crutcher is entering into the world of "metafiction." Metafiction is defined as a "literary device used to self-consciously and systematically draw attention to a work's status as an artifact." In other words, metafiction draws attention to itself as a fictional work and makes the reader consider the line between truth and fiction. 


Based on the context (before and after the highlighted line), when Mrs. Madison says Eddie is "one of ours," she means that Eddie is 
Quiz Chapters 7-12 


Please watch the video below on simile and metaphor in preparation for the question that follows. (This annotation contains a video)
Each of the two highlighted sentences contains a _______ that helps create interest for the reader. 
In the movie "Donne Darko," Donnie (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) is a troubled teenager who is plagued by visions of a large bunny rabbit that manipulates him to commit a series of crimes. (This annotation contains an image)
Billy states that "the book thing" is important to Eddie because "it's about freedom." In what way is The Sledding Hill about freedom? How has freedom (or the lack of it) come up so far in the novel? Can you find examples beyond just the book banning? Please think carefully and respond in 3-5 sentences. 
The game Billy is referring to is the "earthgame" he mentioned earlier, or, in other words, life on earth. 


Why do you think the author chooses to wait until so late in the book to give the reader some insight into why Reverend Tarter is the way he is? How would the book (its characters, plot, themes, effect on the reader etc.) be different if the author had included this information much earlier in the novel? 
If you look at the dictionary definitions of "canned," you might get confused. Billy's dad is not using any of those three definitions; instead, he is using "canned" to mean "fired from one's job," which is a slang use of the word. 
The highlighted sentence suggests that Eddie is planning to  


The language Tarter uses to describe the conflict over Warren Peace could best be described as  
Cue cards are sometimes used in TV and theatrical productions to remind actors of their lines.  (This annotation contains an image)
Click the link below if you'd like to learn a little more about Matthew Shepard and what happened to him. (This annotation contains a link)
The highlighted request is similar to an idea that comes from America's founding fathers called 
Play the video below to help this scene come alive by hearing what this organ playing would sound like (you can just listen to the first 20 or 30 seconds). (This annotation contains a video)


The title of this chapter _______ a visit from the author, Chris Crutcher. 
Do you recognize these authors? Dr. Seuss is probably familiar to you, the popular children's author of books like Cat in the Hat. Harper Lee is best known for To Kill a Mockingbird, Kurt Vonnegut for Slaughterhouse-Five, and Alice Walker for The Color Purple as well as her short stories. Consider: what authors or books have made the biggest impressions on you in your life? 
Follow the link below and read the poem "Queer" by Frank Bidart closely in preparation for the question that follows. (This annotation contains a link)
Compare the poem "Queer" by Frank Bidart to Chad Nash's coming-out speech. What similarities can you find between the two (e.g. in how they describe the challenges of being gay and whether or not one should be honest about one's sexuality)? Is the speech or the poem more moving to you? Why? Please respond in 4-6 sentences. 
This quotation is from Lewis Carroll's famous book, Alice in Wonderland. (This annotation contains an image)


The highlighted phrase is ___________ the film "Rosemary's Baby." 
"Booby hatch" is an informal term for a psychiatric hospital. 


Keeping the highlighted quotation in mind, what do you think this book says (or suggests) about censorship? Do you think The Sledding Hill deserves to be censored? Why or why not? Please respond in 3-5 sentences. 
Quiz Chapters 13-18