Last week I spent a fun afternoon in SLC with Becky and little Emmett. We went to Gateway and f-r-o-z-e. (The idea of an outdoor mall in Utah is lost on me. Whatever charm a place like Gateway might have is diminished by the snow and ice (most months of the year) as people try to navigate the slippery sidewalks and brace against the wind whipping between the stores. Seriously, I hate Gateway in winter.
Our next stop was Trolley Square for a late lunch at Old Spaghetti Factory. As Emmett ate his spaghetti, he kept peeking over the booth at an older man who was dining alone next to us. I hope Emmett's happy smile brought some cheer to the gentleman. They both seemed to enjoy the attention.
After we ate, we wandered through the nearly empty Trolley Square (yes, it's an indoor mall and business is dismal - I don't get it) and happened upon a newly opened bookstore, Sam Weller's, (now called Weller Book Works) an old favorite book seller that we used to go to in downtown SLC when we lived there 35 years ago. There I found a display of Newbery Award winners and among the books was one I had never seen nor heard of before called The Door in the Wall. It was the Newbery winner in 1950 - before I was born. I bought it and read it over the weekend.
Every page is filled with storytelling that's an old-fashioned pleasure. The writing is rich and enjoyable to read - in an "oldtimey" way. The lessons taught are precious. There's kindness and hope and sacrifice and faith. The setting is in medieval times, and the pages are filled with wonderful descriptions and even some lovely illustrations. I think it's a great read-aloud book for older elementary kids - though some reviewers on Amazon found it boring. I didn't! I relished the words and underlined many paragraphs. Words such as, "I can do it, I know I can..." "You can but try. Anyone can not do it." and "Each of us has his place in the world. If we do what we are able, a door always opens to something else."
The author of the book, Mauguerite de Angeli said when she won the Newbery Award, "It is really true, as we used to tell our children, 'When you come to a stone wall, if you look far enough, you will find a door in it.'"
Here is a synopsis of the story which I found on a website called nancypolette.com
Robin, son of a nobleman, is destined to become a knight of the king. However, destiny has a way of playing cruel jokes on one's hopes and dreams, especially when you live during the Middle Ages.
Robin had to be brave when his father left to fight the Scots and when his mother was called away to care for the Queen. He was brave when he became sick and his legs would no longer hold him up. But, when the servants deserted him and he was left alone, he began to doubt how long he could hold on.
Brother Luke saves his life, but Robin must face many problems and dangers. Is his father dead on the battlefield? Will his mother ever return and find him? What is to become of him without the use of his legs? How could he ever serve his king?
All these questions were answered when the castle came under attack and Robin had to find a way to save it. It was then that Robin found his "door in the wall."