The Door in the Wall
A book review for parents
This historical adventure book by Marguerite DiAngeli is published by Doubleday Books for Young Readers and is written for kids ages 10 and up. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.
Robin's father is a knight, and his mother is an attendant to the queen. In medieval times, a young man of Robin's standing should also train for knighthood. But after Robin's father leaves for war and his mother goes to a secret location to attend to the queen, Robin becomes ill and loses the use of his legs. Brother Luke comes to Robin's aid. He not only brings the boy to live in the monastery, but he helps Robin regain some physical strength and teaches him to hone talents that don't require the use of his legs. Robin and Brother Luke eventually join a man named Sir Peter and live at his palace. When it comes under attack, Robin alone is able to escape and call in reinforcements. Robin's parents visit at Christmastime, and the king rewards Robin for his bravery in saving Sir Peter's castle.
Brother Luke prays with Robin on a number of occasions. He encourages the boy to maintain a positive attitude of faith and thanksgiving. Through his compassion for Robin, as well as for the sick and poor who pass through the monastery, Brother Luke is a Christlike example of being a servant. Robin sings "Gloria" ("Angels We Have Heard on High") and plays his harp after being honored by the king.
Despite Robin's fear that people will think less of him because he can't walk, Robin's parents and all in Sir Peter's household respect and admire how Robin has handled his physical challenges. Brother Luke, Robin's most constant companion, attends first to Robin's basic needs for food, shelter and healing. He then encourages Robin in other pursuits, such as woodcarving. He attends to Robin's spiritual needs as well, giving him opportunities to pray and learn about church history. He explains that we all have "walls" in our lives (Robin's wall being his leg problems), but we must find the "door in the wall" rather than surrender to self-pity and despair.
Other Belief Systems
Newbery Medal, 1950
If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:
- Sir Peter tells Robin that everyone has a calling on his life. If a person can't serve in one area, then he can serve in another. When people do whatever they are able to do, a path forward usually opens.
Do you agree or disagree?
- How might God want you to use your unique abilities or strengths to serve Him?
- History is full of stories about people who brought extraordinary change to the world — people like Helen Keller and Ludwig von Beethoven, for example.
Can you think of anyone else like that?
- Do you have any heroes or know anyone personally who has done amazing things in spite of being physically challenged?
Parents may want to share readings such as Psalm 139 and point out that God doesn't just value the attractive or the strong — He values all human life.
Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.