The door in the wall

by Marguerite De Angeli

Paper Book, 1949



Local notes

PB deA




New York : Doubleday, 1989, c1949.


A crippled boy in fourteenth-century England proves his courage and earns recognition from the King.


Newbery Medal (Medal Winner — 1950)


Original publication date


Physical description

120 p.; 25 cm

Media reviews

User reviews

LibraryThing member jjmcgaffey
Eh. Cute little childrens story, set in medieval times. Unfortunately it's marred, especially for me who knows something about that time and place, by the author over-explaining some bits and skimming over others. Robin becomes ill and his legs are paralyzed (apparently instantly upon becoming
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ill); his parents are elsewhere, and with Plague in London, he's nearly forgotten. He gets collected by Brother Luke, who takes him to the monastery and cares for him, teaching him a great many skills he never had - reading, yes, but whittling? That's new to him? He's 10, in that time...and his parents are nobles but not so ridiculously rich that their only son should have been _that_ pampered. The author spends a good deal of time explaining, to Robin, stuff that he should have known - the sources of surnames or eke-names, for instance. Again, he's 10, he's grown up in that time and place, this should _not_ be new information to him! They, on direction from Robin's father, head out to the castle where he was supposed to have been going as a page; he settles in there as not quite a page (since, on crutches, he can't do some of the service), but treated well. And then there's a siege, and somehow the boy on crutches is the only one who can slip out and run several miles to bear a message to get relief for the castle (I'd say my suspension of disbelief went twang there, but actually it broke over the discussion of surnames, long before). And of course he's successful, and then he and a friend sneak back _into_ the town in order to ring the church bells to signal the attack (what? Why? What if they were captured - would the attack have been off? Sheesh). Yay, success, Robin has saved the castle. Then the King comes, maybe a month after the siege - no problem with food, of course, medieval castles can always produce a boar's head on a moment's notice (see: siege, and running out of food...again, sheesh). And Robin is reunited with his family, honored, apparently knighted (?!? Sir Robin? He's 10!), and happy ever after, despite his legs (at least he doesn't get magically cured). Bleah. And on top of all that, while the author spends all that time explaining basic stuff Robin should have known and I knew, she skims over descriptions of things that I don't recognize and Robin could, reasonably, never have seen (as a London boy). What the heck is a butter cross, how does it differ from a market cross, market crosses have roofs? Robin sees them along the road as they travel to the castle, but despite several references there's never a description of either one. I'm sorry, this just does not work for me. The story itself is simplistic and overly sweet, and the setting gets quite a few things wrong (no, I didn't go point by point, the review would be longer than the book). I'm actually sorry I read this. Though I did manage to finish it - good thing it was short.
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LibraryThing member Tessa13
The Door in the Wall was one of the WORST books I have ever read. We had to read it for a novel study for school, and the whole class hated it. I almost fell asleep reading it, it was so boring. I don't recommend this book to anyone, unless they want to fall asleep.
LibraryThing member debnance
Robin, the son of a knight, is all set to set off for the home of a noble lord where he is to begin training as a page. Then tragedy strikes. Robin is beset with an illness that leaves him unable to walk. His servants come down with the plague and he is left alone. Just in time he is rescued by a
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monk who carries him to safety at a monastery, a monk who helps him find the door in the wall Robin needs to leave his castle home and the doors in the wall Robin needs to find in order to make his life a good one.Though this is a happier story than one might anticipate, Robin experiences no miracle cures and has no easy transformations. Time and love and learning help change a moody, spoiled boy of privilege into a boy of courage and compassion.
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LibraryThing member JoClare
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
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and Robin is left alone.
While the plague and war with the Welsh rage through fourteenth-century London, ten-year-old Robin, son of a great lord, comes of age. He finds Lindsey Castle, where he travels to become a knight, beseiged by the Welsh--and he alone can save it. Illustrated.
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LibraryThing member 1morechapter
My favorite passage sums up this book nicely:

"Fret not, my son. None of us is perfect. It is better to have crooked legs than a crooked spirit. We can only do the best we can with what we have. That, after all, is the measure of success: what we do with what we have."

Robin is a boy whose father
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expects him to be a knight. When his father goes off to war, Robin is left alone and falls ill. His legs are slightly crippled afterward. Some monks come to his aid and he learns to "do the best with what he has." Recommended.
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LibraryThing member goodnightmoon
A good historical fiction novel should either describe the period and place in vivid detail, or it should have plenty of action. This book has neither, and the character of Robin is under-developed, too. It is a harmless, somewhat enjoyable tale, but it is not great.
LibraryThing member juliette07
Robin, a crippled boy, son of a knight is the main character of this story set in medieval England. With a beginning in the city of London the setting is woven into the narrative as you learn little by little about what it might have meant to live at that time in that place. The story continues and
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en route we are acquainted with medieval Oxford and finally the Welsh borders. The illustrations are of their time and reflect the period in which the book was published

Throughout the story a picture is painted of our eventual hero learning by example from the monks of the hospice of St Mark’s. He learns from their wisdom far more deeply than he had previously . Wonderful passages cause one to pause and reflect upon the wisdom of the monks as they nurture their young charge.

Having been cared for by the monks Robin asks Brother Matthew about whether he would get well. The reply is one of my favourite passages,

‘Whether thou’lt walk soon I know not. This I know. We must teach thy hands to b e skilful in many ways, and we must teach thy mind to go about whether thy legs will carry thee or no. For reading is another door in the wall, dost understand my son?’

Intertwined in the story are wonderful passages related to the meaning of learning, the ‘rewards’ of learning and the wisdom born of learning. This was a superb book and worthy of the honour it received.
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LibraryThing member tjsjohanna
Surely the Middle Ages was dirtier and more dangerous than Ms. de Angeli describes, but you can't help liking this story of a boy who is taken under the wing of good men who teach him and give him skills and strength and confidence. I liked the title and how it suggests the theme of the book -
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looking for the opportunities that lie in the obstacles.
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LibraryThing member sylvatica
This is a sweet story, but doesn’t have very much meat to it. It follows a sort of classic ‘disabled people have something to contribute to society’ format, with the slight twist that it takes place in the Middle Ages. However, I don’t get the sense that the author did very much research
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before placing her story in that time period – there are details that don’t ring true with better-researched books I’ve read. The ambient religiosity may be uncomfortable for some readers, though it is historically accurate. There are better historical fiction books with more accurate representations of this time. (pannarrens)
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LibraryThing member phoenixcomet
A pleasant but forgettable read about a young crippled boy, Robin, who learns to make the best of whatever circumstances life hands him. Robin is the son of a knight stricken with what was probably polio during the time that the plague swept England. Accustomed to being catered to, he is left with
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the monks to be raised, Instead of remaining a spoiled rich boy, he learns to carve wood, contain his temper, and to ultimately be a hero, even while contending with partially paralyzed legs.
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LibraryThing member lpsinterpreter
This is a Newberry award story of a young boy who is left alone by his father going to war and his mother tending the queen. John-the-Fletcher was to come for him to take him to Sir Peter de Lindsay. John didn't survive the war and Robin was suddenly stricken and unable to move his legs. This book
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tells of the struggles he had to overcome to get to Sir Peter and his bravery in helping defeat the enemy attacking the castle.

I enjoyed the storyline of the book. The language used matched the knighhood vocabulary using such words as hath, 'tis, and nought. It had a good storyline about overcoming obstacles in life. The characters were believable and drew me into their lives.

I think this would be a good story to act out as in a play about knighthood. This would be a good book to read and discuss what to do when obstacles pop up in your life.
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LibraryThing member nmhale
This is one of the earlier winners of the award, and also a short read, which prompted me to pick it up and kick off my personal Newbery challenge with a quick start.

The story is set in medieval England, and focuses on Robin, a young noble boy who is supposed to become a knight, but falls ill and
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finds himself unable to use his legs. What will he do when his destiny, which he thought to be set in stone, is suddenly altered?

The message of this short story is sweet and practical: if you put aside life's disappointments, and apply your best to whatever comes your way, you will find a door in the wall, or another way of fulfilling your destiny. We root for young Robin to grow past his depression and selfishness and emerge the mature young man that he becomes. The other characters, Brother Luke and John the minstrel, are wholesome characters who help Robin along his journey. In fact, almost everyone we meet in the story are likable, good people. That may have been my biggest complaint - that everything is so black and white, it lacks a lot of dramatic tension. We do have some bad guys, such as the scruffy criminals and the faceless Welsh soldiers, and we have some adventures, of the old fashioned questing kind, but the bad guys are clearly all bad and the outcome is never in doubt, because it is such a straightforward story; the good guys always win. This type of telling is appropriate for a story set in the times of knights and maidens, but lacks some of the cinematic spark of a more layered tale. A good old-fashioned story, but it does not compare to some of the other Newbery titles I've read.
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LibraryThing member pvhslibrarian
Booklist 1/1/1990

Gr. 5-7. In this Newbery Medal book set in the thirteenth century, Robin, who is unable to move his legs and is cared for by monks, plays a crucial part in saving a beleagured city.

Personal Review:

This moralistic and educational story is set in fourteenth century England and
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tells the upbringing and development of the child of Sir Jon de Bureford, a knight in service to the King. The boy is stricken and crippled by a strange disease during the time that many sucumb to the black plague. Under the guidance of a compassionate monk from a nearby monastery, the boy is cared for and nursed back to health to where he can move about with crutches. The castles and villages that create the setting of the story are described in realistic detail, and the characters speak solely in the sometimes confusing dialect of Middle Ages England. This may likely be distracting if not awkward for many young readers. Still it is a good representation of the time period. Through the course of the story, the boy learns to adapt to his physical handicap and develops other skills and talents. The reader simply has to pay attention to catch most of the lessons being shared by the author, but they are still valuable lessons to learn. For example,
a friend of his father's says to the boy, 'Each of us has his place in the world. If we cannot serve in one way, there is always another. If we do what we are able, a door always opens to something else.' This is story that has a strong foundation in faith, courage, and thanksgving for simple pleasures.
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LibraryThing member SHARONTHEIL
The Door in the Wall is a positive, humorous tale set in London during the Middle Ages at the time of the Plague, the Black Death. A young boy, Robin, the son of a noble family, turns sickly after his mother has left to attend the Queen, and his father, a knight, is at battle. Left crippled and
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alone, Robin is tended physically and spiritually by the good Brother Luke and the friars at St. Mark’s. During their journey to meet with Robin’s father, the boy has fun, learns to whittle and to play the harp, and he learns love. A delightful book.
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LibraryThing member lisablythe
The Door In The Wall is a charming story set in England in the middle ages. The story center around Robin, the physically challenged son of a nobleman. After Robin loses the use of his legs from an unknown malady, a friar helps him develop not only physical strength, but mental strength. The "door
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in the wall" not only represents literal doors present within walls in the story, but also "doors" that we can walk through in our lives if we are careful to look for them. Robin uses great physical and inner strength to help save a castle being held under seige. This victory shows him that he is only as "challenged as he allows himself to be.

When I have had things to accomplish that seemed overwhelming, I found out that "beginning" was half the battle.

As a classroom extension, I would introduce a lesson about the country of England. I would also have a lesson that taught the children about monastaries.
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LibraryThing member SadieReads
"The Door in the Wall" is the Newbery Award winning story of Robin, the son of a nobleman in England during the middle ages. Robin's father goes off to battle and his mother is summoned to attend to the queen, and Robin is left with servants until it is time for him to join Sir Peter de Lindsay.
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However, a sickness comes over Robin and he loses the use of his legs. His servants abandon him or die of the Plague and he is left alone until Brother Luke rescues him. Under Brother Luke's care Robin develops some strength, learns to work with wood, and becomes able to get around with crutches. Shortly after making his way with Brother Luke to the castle of Sir Lindsay, the castle is attacked. Robin forms a plan to save the castle, but will he be able to see it through without the full use of his legs?

In all honesty, I neither liked nor disliked this book. Although generally a fan of this period in history, I did not find this story terribly engaging. The author, Marguerite De Angeli, does a good job of pulling the reader into the time period through the language of the characters. The narrative is modern enough, but the dialogue between the characters is written similarly to the way they would have spoken during that time. As a reader, I found it distracting at times, though I appreciated it for its historical accuracy. The story also did a good job of portraying the historical setting by the description of the day to day activities of the characters. One activity that I noticed was repeated (at rightfully so historically) was prayer. Given the influence of the Church at the time, and the character of a monk being so present throughout the book, this gave the story more credibility. Also, the problem solving around Robin's inability to use his legs was historically accurate. Often, he had to be carried around by Brother Luke or John-go-in-the-Wynd. However, they were able to fashion a supportive saddle for him so that he could ride long journeys, and Robin was able to make simple wooden crutches for himself.

This book is geared toward 5th graders and above in both interest and content. If you enjoyed it, you may also enjoy "Adam of the Road" by Elizabeth Janet Gray.
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LibraryThing member pcadig1
This book was required reading in 5th grade. I did remember it being very boring, but it fit the genre so I bought it. That said, it is a good book. The period that the book covers, the Middle Ages during the time of plague, is somewhat abstract because of the historical, political and social
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context, so a primer of the times is definitely necessary. As a reader, I kept having to go to wikipedia to look up topics like the feudal system and serfdom, which are not easily explained. Additionally, the language of the book could prove to be a barrier for some (although it is MUCH more accessible than Shakespeare's language).

For me, the best part of this book was the relationship between Robin and Luke, the monk who cares for him. The lessons of the monk regarding patience and wisdom to recognize challenges / opportunities is, to me, the moral of life.

The slow (some would argue plodding) pace of the book and the fact that there is no action, will prove difficult for some readers, especially boys. When one picks up a book that talks of Knighthood and valiant lessons they are expecting battles. Not here. As an adult, I can appreciate what it offers (its also very short), but you need to have a LOT of background knowledge to truly understand whats going on.

The title is a clever illusion to the big idea of the story (similar to When God Closes a Door); there are always answers to life's many challenges, they just may not be the ones you envisioned or the easiest to find.
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LibraryThing member alexmcdonald
This book the school made us read, was horrid, I remeber reading it and falling asleep. This book made the avid readers quit reading. I would suggest never to remake us read this book.
LibraryThing member readerworm12345
DO NOT READ THIS BOOK!This was the worst book I've ever read I couldnt even read all of it it was that bad. I only skimed the book to find awsers to the questions I had to awser for the school project i had to do that forsed me to read this book. It mad no sense and I couldn't understand anything
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that happend in it. I wouldn't recomend this book to my worst enemy.
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LibraryThing member Whisper1
This 1950 Newbery medal winner is charming and cute, but it lacks depth. Increasingly as I continue the quest to read all Newbery books, I'm finding that the earlier ones simply are not as engaging or powerful as those written in the last ten years.

This is a story set in the middle ages. Young ten
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year old Robin is the son of a knight who is destined to follow his father's footsteps until he looses the use of his limbs.

When Robin's mother leaves to serve the Queen and his father goes to war with the Scots, plague hits England and Robin is left alone by his caretakers who are overcome with illness.

A kindly monk rescues him, and living in the monastery provides love, guidance and both physical and mental healing for Robin.

It is a gradual story,that seems to roll along; it did hold my interest and I would guardedly recommend it to those who, like me, enjoy the Newbery award winning books.
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LibraryThing member YvetteKolstad
I've been able to find some interesting video clips online that focus on the Black Plague. This seems to help peak student interest in this time period prior to beginning this book. I've also provided this as an option for book groups; other options include Midwife's Apprentice, Catherine Called
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Birdy, The Bronze Bow, and others.
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LibraryThing member klburnside
Meh. 1950 Newbery winner. Robin, a boy living in London during the plague, has lost the use of his legs and is taken in by some monks while his parents are away. When his father says he will meet him at a castle nearby, Robin is accompanied to the castle by several of the monks. Adventures and
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dangers ensue, and boy bravely rises to the occasion. Pretty boring plot, flat characters, no fun twists or creativity, but nothing I actively disliked. 3 stars by early Newbery standards, 2 by normal standards.
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LibraryThing member TiffanyAK
This was a childhood favorite, and is still as engaging and fun to read as it was when I first encountered it decades ago. An instant classic, I'd definitely recommend it to children and adults alike.
LibraryThing member fingerpost
Set in England during the medieval era, young Robin, son of a nobleman, loses the use of his legs. His father goes off to fight in a war, while his mother is called to London to serve the queen, leaving Robin in the care of servants. But when plague takes several of the servants and the others
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abandon him, he alone and unable to care for himself.
Enter Friar Luke, a monk who takes Robin on his back and carries him to his monastery, where he cares for him and teaches him how to overcome his adversity. Later a minstrel joins the monk and boy on a journey to another castle, where Robin will be taken in until one of his parents returns.
That castle is then attacked by enemies, and the inhabitants would all be eventually starved out or die of thirst, except that Robin finds a way to slip out and summon aid. Soon after the enemy at the castle is vanquished, Robin's parent's both return, and one presumes, they live happily ever after.
This is a nice enough tale, though it feels old fashioned, even for a medieval historical novel. The antiquated dialogue grew somewhat wearying after a while. When the climactic moment comes, that the besieged castle is saved, de Angeli zips through the entire battle in less than one page, leaving me feeling I'd been cheated out of some of the action. Friar Luke and Minstrel John are both appealing characters, and once he starts to learn some of his lessons, Robin is as well.
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LibraryThing member fuzzi
Young Robin becomes ill, losing the use of his legs just as plague strikes London. A local friar arrives to rescue him and nurse Robin back to health. The friar's actions start the young nobleman on a path of learning, and to also find his way beyond his handicap and into adolescence. Very good
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read, worthy of a Newbery.
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½ (375 ratings; 3.7)
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