Robin, son of a nobleman in 14th century England, expects to be trained as a knight. When he falls ill and loses the use of his legs, those plans change. With the care of Brother Luke in a local monastery, Robin slowly regains his strength. The brothers there teach him skills that will serve him well, such as woodcarving, reading and writing. More importantly, however, he learns to overcome his self-pity, anger and shame. He does not understand, at first, why Brother Luke gives so much importance to finding a “door in the wall.” When the castle of his guardian is attacked, Robin discovers that life provides many doors to anyone with the courage to open them.
In spite of its length, this classic Newbery winner teaches some important lessons. Robin’s reaction to his handicap is natural. With guidance, he comes to accept his situation and to be more understanding with others. Detailed illustrations help the reader visualize life in the Middle Ages. Although the characters are simple and straightforward, the dialogue is typical of the time period. For this reason, younger readers may need assistance following the story and some may even prefer to have the story read aloud.
Jennifer Minicus is a mother and teacher currently living in Ridgewood, NJ.