Great Reads: The Door In The Wall

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Book review of The Door In The Wall with author Elizabeth Van Tassel

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.

The Magical Gazebo on Thorn & Vine blog with middle grade fantasy author Elizabeth Van Tassel.

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.

My review:

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.

Middle Grade author and gemologist Elizabeth Van Tassel with quartz gems.

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.


Book review of The Door In The Wall with author Elizabeth Van Tassel

You can find MMGM (Marvelous Middle Grade Monday) reviews from other authors, originally created by Shannon Messenger, and continued by author Greg Pattridge HERE.

8 Responses to "Great Reads: The Door In The Wall"
  1. Kathy Bailey says:

    Elizabeth, so true. I love the older stories. I can’t understand how this one slipped past me! I often recommend the Edward Eager “Magic” stories to older children and tweens. They are such a good read, and still fresh after 50 years.
    Kathy Bailey

    • evantassel says:

      Thank you Kathy for the recommendation! I haven’t read those and will have to hunt them down. Summer is the perfect time to invest in these kinds of stories!

  2. Your review makes me want to race out and find a copy today. The plot and characters sound endearing and the theme should resonate with many. Thanks for your review of this classic.

    • evantassel says:

      Thanks Greg! It’s a short but poignant story like a piece of really rich chocolate cake. So much inside to take away and revisit when it’s helpful! Hope you enjoy it.

  3. That may have been written before I was born. The author was way ahead of her time. What an amazing story that is still timeless and relevant. Thanks for sharing!

    • evantassel says:

      Yes the story really feels like walking back in time. The copyright is 1949 but she’s so skilled at easing the reader into “ye olde” conversation. Little bits of humor and wit work well also. I feel I’m on the journey with them. My son has really loved it too!

  4. I love set in this time period. This sounds like one I would enjoy. I will look for it. Thanks for the post.

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