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Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Door in the Wall, by Margeurite de Angeli

In fourteenth century England, Robin's father has left to fight with the English king in the Scottish wars. Robin's mother has left to serve the queen as a lady-in-waiting. Robin himself was supposed to be escorted to another nobleman's home to begin his training in knighthood, but the plague has ravaged London, and, as a result, his escort has not been permitted to enter London. Robin has been struck by a disease which has wasted his legs so that he is no longer able to walk, and his nurse has died of the plague. All alone, and with seemingly no one aware of his plight, the poor, fretful, frustrated, lonely child grows worried. How can he even get food for himself?

Enter Brother Luke, who brings Robin to the hospice of St. Mark's to look after him until arrangements can be made to reunite Robin with his parents, or send him off to his noble patron. Under Brother Luke's tutelage and ministrations Robin grows up, learns to swim, learns to use crutches, learns patience. Finally Robin goes to his patron, where an opportunity presents itself for him, cripple though he be, to save the whole town.

I thought very highly of this book. My girls loved it. Of the several books I'm reading out loud to them, this was everyone's favorite. It reminded me a great deal of Adam of the Road, and I would be hard-pressed to choose which of them I prefer. The language is beautiful, and the dialog carries the flavor of older English. The story is exciting, while embracing virtues and eschewing vice. Robin is a believable boy.

I highly recommend this book for children, those who read to children, and those who enjoy reading children's literature for themselves.

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