Title: The Door in the WallThe-Door-in-the-Wall
Author: Marguerite de Angeli
Pages: 121
Recommended Ages: 10 & up
Star Rating: ★★★★★

Marguerite de Angeli, you may remember, wrote The Skippack School which I recently reviewed.

The Story.

Robin should have been training with Sir Peter de Lindsay in the noble ways of knighthood. Instead, he is lying in London on a sick bed – crippled. Thinking that he would be joining Sir Peter soon, Robin’s mother, Lady Constance is serving the Queen, while his father is fighting with the king. Robin feels helpless and alone – what will become of him?

Praise be, a monk by the name of Luke takes him to the hospice of St. Mark’s where he is looked after and trained in civilized ways. It is in the company of Brother Luke and the minstrel, John- go-in-the-Wynd, that he finally makes his way to Sir Peter’s castle where he is kindly received. But shortly after his arrival, the Welsh besiege the castle.

Are Robin’s parents safe? And will Sir Peter’s castle withstand the Welsh’s siege? Is there anything that Robin can do to help his parents or save the castle?

Discussion.

I have rarely enjoyed a story as much as I enjoyed The Door in the Wall. Ms. de Angeli’s gentle story-telling combined with sterling moral lessons made this story a real treat.

The moral of this story is that of being grateful for what has been given to you and taking advantage of whatever opportunities are set before you – the ‘doors in walls’. As the story begins we are introduced to a newly crippled, very aristocratic Robin. In the first few pages, he quarrels with his nurse and throws porridge on her, proving his spoiled state. A few pages later, he takes offense at the familiarity of a humble working boy when he bids him greeting. But Robin’s character grows as he labors under Brother Luke’s tutelage. He learns not to take people for granted, but to be grateful towards them. He learns not to shirk his responsibilities because of his injury, but to bear up and play his role. He learns not to be afraid of life, but to meet it head-on, and joyfully. And, in the end, *spoiler* Robin offers himself to be dressed in common clothes and to go forth in search of aid for the besieged castle. He has become a sweet and courageous though still crippled lad.

In one of the first scenes of the book, Robin is attempting to whittle a cross, but he loses control of the chisel and mars the wood. In a display of temper, he throws the chisel. Instead of simply letting him get away with this behavior, Brother Matthew rebukes him, telling Robin that it was his own fault, not the chisel’s. Robin eventually feels ashamed of his anger.

On one occasion, Robin’s alertness keeps his party from being robbed.

For the entire story, Robin is separated from his parents by unavoidable circumstances. But he thinks of them often, wishes he knew where they were, hopes that they are safe, and wonders what they will think of him when they return. It is obvious that he loves them, and *spoiler* when they are all reunited, they are very tender towards one another.

Robin’s good friend, Brother Luke, is a monk. He occasionally blesses himself and says the office. These sort of monkish activities were only mentioned in passing and, instead of being subversive, served to reinforce the medieval setting.

Conclusion. The Door in the Wall is one of the sweetest children’s stories that I have ever encountered. It is a must read for those of you who are searching for fine literature. I give it my full endorsement!

Review © 2012 Laura Verret

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