Friday, April 1, 2016

Review: The Door in the Wall by Marguerite De Angeli

Synopsis: The bells clang above plague-ridden London as Robin lies helpless, cold, and hungry. The great house is empty, his father is fighting the Scots in the north, his mother is traveling with the Queen, and the servants have fled. He calls for help but only the stones hear his cries. Suddenly, someone else is in the house, coming towards Robin. It is Brother Luke, a wandering friar, who takes Robin to St. Mark’s Monastery, where he will be cared for until his father sends for him. At last a message comes – Robin is to meet his father at Castle Lindsay. The journey is dangerous, and the castle is located near the hostile Welsh border. Perched high in the hills, the castle appears invincible. But it is not. Under the cover of a thick fog the Welsh attack the castle. And Robin is the only one who can save it…. (from the back of the book)

Review: Sent in England during the Middle Ages, this book is rich with culture and history. Robin, the crippled son of a nobleman, faces a bleak history. His purpose in life is to be a page, and then knight, for his King - but how can a crippled boy be a page? Through the kindness of strangers-turned-family, Robin learns there are many ways to serve. As Brother Luke says, there is always a door in the wall. While a good story, I uncertain why it merits a Newbery Medal. The story, while meticulous in historic detail, is good but not great. Perhaps because it is subtle. Robin only slightly struggles, then quickly adapts to a life of trying and working with an ease that seems unrealistic. He rarely suffers set backs or hardships, which robs his "trying" of its triumph. Despite this, I would recommend this book to anyone with kids, particularly boys or those interested in historical stories.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: Newbery Medal, 1950, Lewis Carol Shelf Award, 1961

ISBN: 0-590-40968-9
Year Published: 1949
Date Finished: 3-30-2016
Pages: 121

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