DaNae's Reviews > The Door in the Wall

The Door in the Wall by Marguerite de Angeli
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's review
Feb 17, 2011

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bookshelves: z11-11-11, 4th-grade-reading-list, historical-fiction, newbery-medal
Read from February 11 to 17, 2011

Robin, at the age of ten, was well past the time of hanging about his mother’s skirts. Time was a wasting, best ship the kid off study in the art of knighthood. His father was off knighting it up against the Scots and his mother was needed to attend to the queen, and the plague was running rampant through England. Robin, left to wait for his transport to a brother knight’s castle, falls ill with some unknown disease the moment his mother leaves him on his own in London. The malady strikes his legs, leaving him bed ridden and not fit for knightly duties. Soon the entire household is decimated by the plague. Robin is rescued by the saintly Brother Luke and taken to the nearby monastery to convalesce. Brother Luke provides physical therapy for the petulant Robin and helps him find sedentary interests. After a whiny letter to his father Robin, Luke, and a wandering minstrel set off to the stronghold of Sir Peter de Lindsay. While there, the Castle is beset by Welch ruffians. (“Glory to the Welch!” says this narrator, a descendant of the rabble.) Robin uses his new found courage, talents, and his stealthy crutches to sneak out of the door in the wall and save the day. Honor, accolades, and heavy-handed literary illusions follow.

I will admit that it took me days to read a book barely over a hundred pages long. I didn’t hate it, it just didn’t captivate me. The characters were not vibrant. Robin shows growth from an indulged brat to a self-sacrificing hero, but the development was not shown – it just seemed to happen. The plot moved along at a quick trot, but didn’t get anywhere quickly. The siege and Robin’s triumph was plenty thrilling, but didn’t take up a whole lot of space.

This book reads young and might work for a read aloud for 3rd or 4th grade, but for older students looking for medieval fiction, I would first turn their attention to Good Master’s, Sweet Ladies (what Schlitz can do with a character in a page or two is truly astonishing) or to Cushman’s Midwife Apprentice

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