A House of Tailors
SEWING! NO ONE could hate it more than Dina Kirk. Endless tiny stitches, button holes, darts. Since she was tiny, she's worked in her family's dressmaking business, where the sewing machine is a cranky member of the family. When 13-year-old Dina leaves her small town in Germany to join her uncle's family in Brooklyn, she turns her back on sewing. Never again! But looking for a job leads her right back to the sewing machine. Why did she ever leave home? Here she is, still with a needle and threadand homesick to boot. She didn't know she could be this homesick, but she didn't know she could be so brave either, as she is standing up to an epidemic or a fire. She didn't know she could grow so close to her new family or to Johann, the young man from the tailor's shop. And she didn't know that sewing would reveal her own wonderful talentand her future. In Dina, the beloved writerPatricia Reilly Giffhas created one of her most engaging and vital heroines. Readers will enjoy seeing 1870s Brooklyn through Dina's eyes, and share her excitement as she discovers a new world. From the Hardcover edition.
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The setting of this story is very important. It begins in 1870 as the Franco-Prussian War is under way. Germany and France are fighting over control of the southern German states. How will this setting affect the story? Learn more about setting in the following video. (This annotation contains a video)
The letter from Dina's uncle invites Katharina to
Character traits are all the elements of a person’s behavior and attitudes that make up that person’s personality. In order to discern a person or character’s traits, we look at what they say, what they do, and what other people say about them. Dina can be described as a dreamer from this passage. Learn more about character traits in the video below. (This annotation contains a video)
From Dina's actions when she wakes up, you can describe her as
Plot is the pattern of events as they are told in a story, which can be categorized into five sections. Learn how to identify the exposition (the first section) in the following video. (This annotation contains a video)
What details do you learn in the exposition of the plot?
What detail leads the soldier to infer that Dina is a French spy?
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. Try it right now to look up the word unwary.
Which statement most accurately compares Dina's feelings to those of her family?
Below is an image of the poem that is written on the bottom of the Statue of Liberty. Read the poem and use the text to answer the question that follows. (This annotation contains an image)
Using textual evidence from the poem, explain how the poem could give hope to immigrants as they enter America. Does Dina have similar hopes for her life in America?
A good reader uses clues to figure out things that are not exactly stated in the text. You can infer that Uncle Lucas is not very happy to see Dina because he didn't smile. Learn more about how to make inferences in the following video. (This annotation contains a video)
From the selected text, you can infer that Dina feels
The point of view in a book refers to who is telling the story. The three types of point of view are described in the poster below. From which point of view do you think this story is told? (This annotation contains an image)
You can infer that the insect Dina is describing is a
A flashback stops the current story and changes the scene to tell the previous events as if the character is reliving the actual event. The reader can gain understanding of a character’s motivation and provide background to a current conflict. Sometimes writers add flashbacks in the form of dreams and memories. What does Dina's flashback help you understand about her feelings for sewing?
How would the scene between Uncle Lucas and Dina be different if it was told from the third person point of view instead of first person? Use examples from the story to support your answer.
Theme is the main idea of a book that is repeatedly addressed as the plot progresses. One theme that is starting to develop is Dina's determination to get back home to Breisach. Pay attention to how this theme is developed throughout the rest of the book. Learn more about how to identify themes from the video. (This annotation contains a video)
What does the boy in the tailor shop do that is not proper sewing technique?
Historical fiction is a made-up story that takes place during an actual time in history. This story takes place during the time of European immigration to the United States. The events about the war between Germany and France are real. Take note of the major characteristics of historical fiction in the poster below. (This annotation contains an image)
Quiz Chapters 1-9
Based on the story so far, which words describe Dina and her uncle?
A good reader can summarize main points in a story. In this chapter, Dina and Uncle Lucas argue because Dina wants to work in service during the day and sew for Uncle Lucas at night, but Uncle Lucas wants Dina to sew all day for him. Watch the video below to find out what to include in a strong summary. (This annotation contains a video)
Which statement is the best summary of this chapter?
Remember Dina has come to America from Germany so she does not speak English. What problems do you think not knowing the language will create for Dina?
Which word is an antonym of immaculate?
Write a statement to summarize the events in Chapter 12.
From the dialogue between Dina and Uncle Lucas, you can infer that he views Dina as too outspoken. However, he also sometimes admires this trait as you can see by his smile after their wage negotiations. Learn about text based evidence in the video below. (This annotation contains a video)
Which excerpt from the text supports the inference that Dina and Uncle Lucas are both thrifty with money?
Immigrants who left their home country to live in the United States usually grouped themselves with others who came from the same country. Today there are still sections of New York City known for its ethnic groups such as Little Italy and Chinatown.
Smallpox is a contagious disease that begins with flu-like symptoms of fever and body aches with red blisters appearing after a couple of days. It can cause severe scarring, blindness and death. The outbreak of smallpox that is described in this book actually resulted in mandatory vaccinations for smallpox.
Use the define function to look up the meaning of the word parlor. Which definition is correct for the context of the sentence?
Foreshadowing is a hint of something to come in the story. Smallpox has been mentioned several times in the story, which could foreshadow that someone may get the disease later in the story.
Based on the selected text, which of the following character traits would NOT describe Dina?
What can you infer about Barbara from the description of her condition?
Authors use suspense to build the reader's desire to know what happens next in the story. Can you feel the anxiety created by Dina's frantic efforts to hide Maria's smallpox?
Why does the author add the selected question in the events of this scene?
Quiz Chapters 10-18
The author continues to develop the theme of determination by Dina not admitting how tired she actually is.
Uncle Lucas first thinks Dina is irresponsible for opening the window, but changes his opinion to being _________ after he learns Dina helped Barbara and Maria.
A muff is a hand warmer that is open on both ends. (This annotation contains an image)
Writers use different structures to build the ideas of story. Examine the text structure chart below. Which structure is used to tell this story? (This annotation contains an image)
Using textual evidence, predict what the people on the street could be pointing out.
Conflict is an important part of every story, and this video will tell you more about the two different kinds of conflict: internal and external. (This annotation contains a video)
What type of conflict does Dina face in this chapter?
Even though it is an exciting point in the story, the fire is not the climax. It is part of the rising action, events that lead up to the climax. The major conflict, Dina's desire to go home to Germany, is not yet solved. As you read, pay attention to the events that affect Dina's ability to return home to her family.
Explain how Dina's actions at the apartment help to develop the theme of determination that will overcome obstacles.
Watch the clip below from the movie An American Tail. Pay attention to the message the bird is trying to get across to the mouse. There will be a question later that relates to the clip. (This annotation contains a video)
Compare the message of the bird in the movie clip to the events in this chapter. Why should you "never say never"?
In Dina's dream she is confused about where her home actually is. This is an example of
This scene is very important because it reveals how invested Dina is with her extended family. She is determined to help the family get out of debt even if it means a sacrifice for her.
Which sense is the author appealing to through the use of imagery in this passage?
The plot, or events that make up a story, of a text is moved by cause and effect relationships. The cause is what happens and the result is the effect. Dina realizes the multiple causes that have resulted in her being able to help her uncle's family.
This scene where Dina makes the decision to stay in America is the climax of the plot. The main conflict of the book, Dina's determination to get back home to Germany, is resolved with her decision to stay.
Explain how Dina's plan for her life has changed since the beginning of the book.
Read on after the final quiz to learn about the author's real-life inspiration for this novel!
The resolution of the plot reveals what happens to the characters after the climax. In this story, Dina goes on with her life and learns that Katharina will come to America with her husband.
Quiz Chapters 19-27