This week under The Magical Gazebo, where I like to sit for the reviews, is an old favorite called The Door In The Wall by Marguerite de Angeli, which won the Newbery Medal in 1950. The theme of being heroic despite circumstances is very appropriate for the upcoming Memorial Day Holiday, and I want to thank any family and friends here who’ve served for our freedom.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Is it a clean read? Yes but there are serious topics covered during the time of the plague, so perhaps better for tweens and teens than young readers.
Back of book:
Ever since he can remember, Robin, son of Sir John de Bureford, has been told what is expected of him as the son of a nobleman. He must learn the ways of knighthood. But Robin’s destiny is changed in one stroke: he falls ill and loses the use of his legs. Fearing a plague, his servants abandon him and Robin is left alone. A monk named Brother Luke rescues Robin and takes him to the hospice of St. Mark’s where he is taught woodcarving and—much harder—patience and strength. Says Brother Luke, “Thou hast only to follow the wall far enough and there will be a door in it.”
Robin soon enough learns what Brother Luke means. And when the great castle of Lindsay is in danger, it is Robin, who cannot mount a horse and ride to battle, who saves the townspeople and discovers there is more than one way to serve his king.
I’ve been listening on audio book to this long-time favorite and it could not be more perfect timing. The first time we read this together, my son had a broken ankle he got from a stray ball during baseball season, which kept him recovering during summer vacation. He was pretty sad watching friends in the pool and swimming. This book was a perfect perspective while we were waiting and playing board games. This time we’ve hit other bumps as can happen in life. We are canceling summer plans to be close to help family with serious medical issues if needed. It’s been a challenging year after our move. I’d been looking for something encouraging on long rides for my kids, and this came to memory.
The story of a young boy who, after being injured, finds a special way to heroically save his town, The Door In The Wall is a phenomenal example of how to look for life lessons when serious challenges are facing you. I’ve loved sharing this with my son and finding hidden gems we can discuss. Every time we see a doorway it’s a living reminder that even in difficult circumstances sometimes what’s most important in life rises to the surface. We can still find purpose and importance despite circumstances or even challenges at school or in moving to a new town and beginning again.
I think the favorite part for me is the character arc for young Robin, who moves from complaining to being grateful for every little improvement in his abilities. It seems like in our go-go-go lifestyle, Marguerite de Angeli has crafted a story that helps one to slow down and appreciate the simplest of tasks and abilities, and take a new perspective on losses. She’s again transformed my perspective as well, that every challenge or loss can also bring a new “door in the wall” to another direction of possibilities. I’d like to endeavor to live with that in mind, and this is an excellent summer read for your tween or teen.
Elizabeth Van Tassel writes compelling middle-grade fantasy. She brings her knowledge and expertise in the field of gemology to the page and infuses her love of folklore into modern adventures filled with mystery. A wildfire survivor, Elizabeth also understands the both power of loss and the power of hope. And she’s always on the hunt for a great story. Elizabeth currently resides in the Bay Area with her husband and two sons. She can be found wandering the gardens of Filoli House, enjoying her favorite coffee shops, and engaging with other writers.