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The Door in the Wall by Marguerite de Angeli, Yearling Newbery Award winner 1949
Number of pages:


This is a story, set in Medieval England, of a young boy, Robin, who gets separated from his parents, and at the same time is taken by a crippling illness.

With the help of some friars who take him under their care, he learns to deal patiently with his disability. Robin is also taught to strive, with a sincere love of neighbor, to do his best for the common good. After many exercises and much attention, he gains the strength to walk with crutches. But the wise friar knows that a strong body is not enough. Little by little, Robinís mind and soul are given a healthy workout. The friar constantly teaches Robin that without the use of his legs he can still do many things that merit honor and praise. He learns through the guidance of Brother Luke that a willing heart and a pure mind can perform good deeds. This boy truly strives for perfection once he is set on the right path.

This book takes on more of an adventurous flavor in the second half, as the boy, one monk, and a minstrel make a journey to a castle and end up by helping to save the place from an attacking army. At the end of the story, the boy is reunited with his parents.

Strong points:

  • Many virtues are portrayed throughout the book, especially in Robinís spiritual growth. Some of the virtues include: patience with oneself, courage, perseverance, and patience in waiting for Godís plan in oneís life.
  • The actions of Brother Luke, the friar who takes care of the boy and the advice he gives to him are exemplary. This helps the student to see Godís Providence helping him along the ascending path of Christian perfection through the guidance of parents, priests and teachers.
  • A realistic view of the medieval life, in general, is given. Good details are provided in castle and monastery scenes.
  • Many excellent themes can be identified and used as subjects for composition. This is a well-researched and splendidly written book.


There are absolutely none at all. This would be an excellent source of literature to be used in the classroom. It is also excellent reading material to familiarize oneself with medieval history and customs.


This book is highly recommended for youngsters. It leaves the young reader with a beautiful impression of the Church and especially the monastic life. The lessons learned by the boy are timeless and quite applicable to todayís youth. There is enough adventure to keep the youngsters interested for its entirety.

Our students could be said to be in the same situation as young Robin; perhaps not as crippled as he, but all the same each with their own handicaps. Teachers try to embed in their minds and hearts the virtues which will ultimately lead them to Heaven. There are many works of literature which show us the straight path to reach the goal. Although that way is often full of trials and crosses, perseverance to the end will be rewarded.