The Dark-Thirty: Southern Tales of the Supernatural

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Illus. in black-and-white. With an extraordinary gift for suspense, McKissack brings us ten original spine-tingling tales inspired by African-American history andthe mystery of that eerie half-hour before nightfall--the dark thirty.
Curriculet Details
39 Questions
55 Annotations
3 Quizzes

Designed for students in the 5th grade, this free digital curriculum contains interactive annotations and videos which discuss topics such as point of view, character traits, and foreshadowing. Over the course of the novel, students will answer Common Core questions related to textual connections, figurative language, and making inferences. This free online unit will increase student engagement while building reading comprehension.

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Author's Note

The author's note gives you information about the setting of the stories. Watch the video below to learn more about setting.  (This annotation contains a video)

Chapter 1 - The Legend of Pin Oak

You can see the painting described by the author below. (This annotation contains an image)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.3
Why would Harper's father wish that Harper had died? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.4
Which word is a synonym for, or means the same as, "coldly"? 
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 select 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. Is there a word on this page you need to look up? 
Remember that Amos has green eyes. Who do you think might be Henri's father? 
Remember that relations between different races were A LOT different during the time of slavery in the U.S. Today, kids have friends of all races, but this was looked down upon during the time period of the story. How does seeing racism make you feel?  (This annotation contains an image)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.1
What is the relationship between Henri and Harper? 
This paragraph is a great example of foreshadowing. Please watch the video below and learn more about how authors use foreshadowing.  (This annotation contains a video)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.4
"'Would a carpenter sell his saw?'"Mr. Kelsey is making an analogy. Who or what is the "saw" that is being sold? 
The stories in this book are all folktales. Folktales are stories that are passed down from generation to generation. This is usually done by oral storytelling. Folktales come from all around the world and are an interesting way to learn about different cultures. (This annotation contains an image)
This is an extremely offensive word today, but it was used often during the time of slavery. Keep in mind that the author of the story is trying to give you an accurate picture of the time period. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.1
What motivates Henri and Charlemae to run and why are they jumping off a cliff now? Explain? 
Notice how the author has structured a break in the text here using asterisks (***). What change does the break signify? You will be asked to explain in the following question. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.5
Consider that the author structured "The Legend of Pin Oak" with two main sections. How are the first section and the second section of the text related? 

Chapter 2 - We Organized

"Massa" means master. The author is using the dialect to make the folktale seem more real. Dialect is a type of language that is specific to a place or a group of people. As you read, you will notice other examples of the dialect that people used in the southern U.S. a long time ago. 
Keep reading... the illustration at the end of "We Organized" will show you where the button went! 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.5
How is the structure of "We Organized" different from the structure of "The Legend of Pin Oak"? 
The following illustration in the story shows a poppet hanging from a tree. A poppet is sort of like a puppet, but it is used in witchcraft or voodoo to represent a person and bring that person harm. Do the illustrations by Brian Pinkney help you to understand the stories? You can see a photo of this famous illustrator below. (This annotation contains an image)

Chapter 3 - Justice

The photograph below shows Ku Klux Klan members wearing their traditional robes. The Ku Klux Klan is known as a hate group that and they are most infamous for their crimes against African Americans in the southern United States.  (This annotation contains an image)
Here, "dropped into the lap" is an example of figurative language. Of course nothing is being literally dropped into the Chief's lap. What is the meaning of this phrase as it is used here? 
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What does the highlighted text tell you about Hoop? 
Please take a moment to watch the video about making inferences. Based on the clues in the highlighted text, what inference can you make about who killed the cat?  (This annotation contains a video)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.4
"'Now git, and make sure that bald-faced lie you hatched about Alvin dies quickly.'"The word "git" is an example of  
The highlighted line is an example of an allusion to the Bible. An allusion is a reference to a famous person, event, place, or other work of literature. Authors do not usually explain allusions. Instead, the reader must make a connection on his or her own. 
Watch the video below to learn about character traits. Based on his actions, what type of person is Hoop? What traits does he have?  (This annotation contains a video)
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Consider what character traits Hoop and Alvin have. How do these characters contrast and seem like opposites? 
The author leads you to infer that Hoop killed the cat. Did you know murdering or abusing an animal is not only cruel, it's illegal? If you suspect that an animal has been killed or abused by someone, you should tell an adult so that he or she can inform the police. You may save an animal's life. 
The phrase "accusing dark eyes" is an example of personification. Eyes cannot actually accuse anyone. Watch the video below to learn more about personification. (This annotation contains a video)
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What is the main idea of "Justice"? 
Quiz 1 

Chapter 4 - The 11:59

The phrase "spinning yarns" is an example of figurative language. It means "telling stories." 
Did you recognize this allusion? Paul Bunyan is a character from American folktales. Try checking out a book about him from your school library, or read "American Tall Tales" on Curriculet to learn more about this folk hero. (This annotation contains an image)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.4
What is the meaning of the phrase "has got exactly twenty-four hours to clear up earthly matters"? 
Having part of your body go numb is a symptom of a stroke. Strokes usually affect older people.  (This annotation contains an image)
"Ticktock" is an example of onomatopoeia, which means that the author is using a word to imitate a sound. Can you think of some other examples of onomatopoeia?  (This annotation contains an image)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.4
How does the author use personification in the highlighted paragraph? 
Watch the video below. Is "The 11:59" told in the first person or in the second person point of view? (This annotation contains a video)
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Which option correctly describes the point of view from which "The 11:59" is told? 

Chapter 5 - The Sight

Do you think the author is using foreshadowing here? 
What does the highlighted detail tell you about the setting of the story? Pictured below is a 1931 Ford Model A. (This annotation contains an image)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.3
How are Amanda and Tall different? Explain how their characters contrast. 
There are two ways in which all of the stories in this book have been alike so far. First, the stories all focus on African-American characters. Secondly, supernatural events occur in all of the stories. The word "supernatural" refers to something that is beyond scientific explanation. Esau's sight is an example of something supernatural. 
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How does the current scene contribute to the story?  
Notice how much descriptive language the author uses in the highlighted paragraph to help you picture Esau's vision. Do you feel that you can "see" the inside of this house in your head? 
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Why is Esau so upset in this scene? 
So far, the story has been building up to this moment, the climax. Can you see why this scene is the climax of the story? It contains the most action and is a major turning point. Locate the climax in the plot diagram below.  (This annotation contains an image)
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How does the highlighted text contribute to the story? You can look at the previous annotation for help. 

Chapter 6 - The Woman in the Snow

Do you recognize the woman in the photograph below? Her name is Rosa Parks and her refusal to give up her bus seat triggered the Montgomery bus boycott.  (This annotation contains an image)
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What does the highlighted text tell you about the point of view from which the story is written? 
You can tell a lot about a character from his or her actions. What do you learn about this woman based on the offer she makes in the highlighted paragraph? 
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Which of the following options gives the BEST summary of "The Woman in the Snow"? 
Please watch the video below. It will help you to answer the next question.  (This annotation contains a video)

Chapter 7 - The Conjure Brother

A "conjure woman" is very similar to a witch. You can see an artist's depiction of a conjure woman below. (This annotation contains an image)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.4
The word "ointments" is a _________ for the word "salves." 
Josie is the protagonist of "The Conjure Brother." Watch the video below to learn more about protagonists, or main characters. You will also learn about antagonists, who oppose the main character of a story.  (This annotation contains a video)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.2
Remember that all of the stories in this book have a supernatural element. How does the main idea of "The Conjure Brother" relate to the supernatural? 
How is Josie beginning to feel about Adam? Is having a "conjure brother" as great as she expected in would be? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.4
The phrase "Whoosh! Whoosh!" is an example of _____________. 
Think about the phrase "at each other's throats." Is this an example of figurative language or literal language? Have you heard someone use this phrase before? 
Folktales often have morals to them. Although Josie learns that it is hard to be the youngest, there is another moral, or lesson to be learned here. Have you ever heard the phrase "Be careful what you wish for"? 
Quiz 2 

Chapter 8 - Boo Mama

The highlighted line is an allusion to the Vietnam War, which lasted until 1975. Many Americans opposed this war and protested against it. Below, you can see a photograph of an African-American soldier taken during the Vietnam War.  (This annotation contains an image)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.4
"I was cool when they murdered Martin Luther King."Which word is a synonym for "cool" as it is used in this sentence? 
Use the Define feature to read the definition of the word "hippie." Hippie culture was popular during the time of the Vietnam War. Hippies made some people nervous because they had new ideas and protested some government decisions, such as the war in Vietnam. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.4
The highlighted text is an example of ____________. 
You can see a photograph of a chigger below. These tiny insects, also called "red bugs," can leave very unpleasant, itchy bites on people and animals. (This annotation contains an image)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.1
According to the doctor, what has changed about Nealy? 
The doctor thinks that Nealy's "jibber-jab" is more than just nonsense noises. How could he possibly have learned a language while living in the woods alone? 
Make an inference. What is the name of the person - or thing - that must have raised Nealy in the woods? 
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What do Leddy's actions tell you about her feelings for Nealy? 
Do you think this is the best explanation for what happened to Nealy? Or is there more to this story? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.1
Who is the intruder? What clues lead you to this conclusion? 
The creature described in the story sounds a lot like a Big Foot or Sasquatch. There are a lot of other legends and folktales about this mythological creature. Many people claim to have captured this monster on camera, but the images are always blurry. Do you think this monster could be real, or is it simply made up?  (This annotation contains an image)
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What has caused Nealy to develop similarities to the Gen (Big Foot creatures)? 
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What is the meaning of "Toi ben tu"? 

Chapter 9 - The Gingi

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.4
Which of the following words is a synonym for "talisman"? 
Ebony is a type of very dark brown wood. You can see a photograph of an ebony carving below.  (This annotation contains an image)
Ghana is a country in western Africa. (This annotation contains an image)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.5
How does the highlighted text contribute to the story? 
The image below gives you an example of what a Victorian house looks like. Does it seem a little spooky to you? (This annotation contains an image)
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Who is Mr. Feathers? 
Remember what you learned about talismans at the beginning of the story. Could the family be receiving some sort of protection from a talisman? 
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Make an inference. Why are strange events beginning to happen to the family? 
Notice how the author has italicized some of the words in the story. She does this to make the words stand out so that you recognize that they are referring to what the woman in the African shop said to Laura at the beginning of the tale. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.1
Which character can be considered the protagonist of this story? 
Does Laura believe that the haunting is actually real?  
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What point of view is this story told from? Explain your answer. 
Can you identify the simile in the highlighted text? 

Chapter 10 - The Chicken-Coop Monster

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.5
How do the paragraphs at the beginning of each of story relate to the text? 
Unless you have visited a small farm, you probably are unfamiliar with chicken coops. They are little houses that the birds nest in.  (This annotation contains an image)
Remember that "MWA" stands for "Monster Watchers of America." This is an example of an acronym. The first letters of each word are used to create a new word. Can you think of any other acronyms? 
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Which option BEST describes Melissa's expression in the illustration? 
Remember that you can use the Define feature for help understanding the meaning of words while you are reading. Another way to figure out the meaning of words is to use context clues. Watch the video about context clues below. Could you understand the meaning of "lair" just by using context clues? (This annotation contains a video)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.4
The word "dreaded" tells you that the narrator is  
"There is no fear in love" can be considered the theme of this story. Watch the video below to learn more about theme.  (This annotation contains a video)
Quiz 3