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Through the Hidden Door Paperback – June 10, 2002

4.2 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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100 Young Adult Books to Read in a Lifetime
100 Young Adult Books to Read in a Lifetime
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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 5-9 Needing a place to hide from a group of vicious classmates, Barney Pennimen joins secretive Snowy Cobb to explore a hidden cave in which a small, unidentified bone was found. The boys find traces of a miniature villagebut are not sure whether it is a model of a community or the actual remains of a 100,000-year-old civilization. Wells tells two stories here: Barney's victimization and growing strength of character, and the boys' discovery and protection of the ancient civilization. Both are suspenseful and remarkably well integrated into the novel. Obsessively private Snowy, who has emotional problems, and Barney, an intelligent boy whose past submission to peer pressure has gotten him into trouble, are both fully realized characters. These two will engage readers' interest, which will be sustained throughout by the brutal reality of Barney's school experiences and the appealing fantasy of the boys' remarkable findings. The wish fulfillment associated with that discovery will more than compensate for the minimal or non-existent scientific and historic groundings of the civilization and its unearthing (a society of six-inch humans does not fit in with evolutionary theory; the achievements of their civilization does not match cultural history; it is implausible that two boys could have the archaeological know-how to uncover the village without harming it). An absorbing school story with a twist, this one is sure to fill readers with a sense of wonder. David Gale, ``School Library Journal''
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin (June 10, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142301507
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142301500
  • Product Dimensions: 4.3 x 0.7 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,365,475 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Born in New York City, Rosemary Wells grew up in a house "filled with books, dogs, and nineteenth-century music." Her childhood years were spent between her parents' home near Red Bank, New Jersey, and her grandmother's rambling stucco house on the Jersey Shore. Most of her sentimental memories, both good and bad, stem from that place and time. Her mother was a dancer in the Russian Ballet, and her father a playwright and actor. Mrs. Wells says, "Both my parents flooded me with books and stories. My grandmother took me on special trips to the theater and museums in New York. "Rosemary Wells's career as an author and illustrator spans more than 30 years and 60 books. She has won numerous awards, and has given readers such unforgettable characters as Max and Ruby, Noisy Nora, and Yoko. She has also given Mother Goose new life in two enormous, definitive editions, published by Candlewick. Wells wrote and illustrated Unfortunately Harriet, her first book with Dial, in 1972. One year later she wrote the popular Noisy Nora. "The children and our home life have inspired, in part, many of my books. Our West Highland white terrier, Angus, had the shape and expressions to become Benjamin and Tulip, Timothy, and all the other animals I have made up for my stories." Her daughters Victoria and Beezoo were constant inspirations, especially for the now famous "Max" board book series. "Simple incidents from childhood are universal," Wells says. "The dynamics between older and younger siblings are common to all families."But not all of Wells' ideas come from within the family circle. Many times when speaking, Mrs. Wells is asked where her ideas come from. She usually answers, "It's a writer's job to have ideas." Sometimes an idea comes from something she reads or hears about, as in the case of her recent book, Mary on Horseback, a story based on the life of Mary Breckenridge, who founded the Frontier Nursing Service. Timothy Goes to School was based on an incident in which her daughter was teased for wearing the wrong clothes to a Christmas concert. Her dogs, west highland terriers, Lucy and Snowy, work their way into her drawings in expression and body position. She admits, "I put into my books all of the things I remember. I am an accomplished eavesdropper in restaurants, trains, and gatherings of any kind. These remembrances are jumbled up and changed because fiction is always more palatable than truth. Memories become more true as they are honed and whittled into characters and stories."

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on May 12, 2001
Format: Paperback
When i read this book for the first time five years ago i couldn't put it down. I didn't really enjoy reading adventure stories as this but when i read it it just amzed me and it was so thrilling it actually pulled me into the story to this day it's still one of my all time favorites.
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I read this book when I was in approximately the 5th or 6th grade (roughly 1990). It had a profound impact on my development as a child. It left an indelible mark on me and my future interests. For years after reading this I wanted to be an archaeologist. To this day I love exploring caves (although usually accompanied by a guide... and lots of light). To this day, I think often of this book and have been dying to read it. The only problem was that I had long since forgotten the title, but not the story and not the lessons. It took me years to find it again. You would think that searching for a book about two boys finding a miniature civilization in a cave would be pretty straightforward but my searches usually resulted in books like City of Ember or other stories of underground cities. I finally found the right one a few months ago and am currently re-reading it and will give my grown up opinion once I have finished it. But the 12 year old me gives it 5 stars. It's one of the rare books that strongly influenced my personality at that stage of development and I can honestly say it helped shape me into the person I am today. It's a story of wonder and discovery, loss and redemption, and I can't recommend it enough.
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Format: Paperback
Before my grandmother died, she gave me two books. One was about about President Lincoln and the other was Through the Hidden Door. I glanced at the titles and cover and cast it aside. I rarely judge a book by it's cover, but my grandmother just wanted to get rid of the books, knew I liked to read and gave them to me without taking my personal choices into consideration.

After a couple years I was cleaning out my closet and found this book. I had perfected my book-choosing method (my bank account needs a break): I read the title, the summary on the back (or inside flap) and the 'About the Author'. Then I read the first page, a random page somewhere in the middle, and finally, the last page. What I read intrigued me enough to read this book.

The beginning is slow-going and I was furious over the abuse Barney suffered from his classmates and even the teacher (who uses hot stones to correct Barney's lisp). And don't even get me started on the Headmaster's dog! However, I muddled through it and stuck around for the real adventure, when Barney forms an alliance (you can't call a kid who leads you around blindfolded a friend, I don't think) with Snowy Cobb. The boys uncover a miniature civilization in a cave and spend time together uncovering it (from who knows how many years of dust, rock and soil) and also try to solve the mystery. Is it a model of a ancient civilization, or is a REAL civilization with tiny people?

I give this book a five out of five.

Was it interesting? Yes.

Was it believable? As believable as a miniature civilization can be! (Use your imigination, people. If Stonehenge can exist, why can't this itty-bitty civilization?
Read more ›
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Format: Kindle Edition
This is one of the most finely crafted YA novels I've read,
a tale of courage and grace in the face of peer and adult
bullying, a story of growth under the most difficult yet
common experiences, one of those classic YA novels
that would provide intriguing sources of class discussion and
writing prompts for classroom use.

Through the Hidden Door deserves to be recognized by the various award committees as a significant contribution to young adult literature.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Barney has made friends with the trouble makers at his boarding school. In order to be their friend, he has done many things he knows to be wrong. Animal cruelty, however, is one he cannot go along with. Once ostracized from his former friends - now enemies, he befriends Snowy, a legally blind boy who is searching for something in a cave. Snowy needs Barney's help and together they unearth a fascinating discovery. In the midst of it all, Barney learns about honesty, loyalty and friendship. I did not like the ending of the book, but it is a good read.
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