Through the Door to Danger


A week before classes start, twelve-year-old Craig wanders the empty, echoing halls of historic Shady River School, where his mother teaches. Craig is glad to stumble upon a new friend, a young African-American girl named Luceille, dressed in peculiar, old-fashioned clothes. Discovering that Luceille can vanish as quickly as she appears, Craig follows her through the door of the custodian’s closet and into the year 1968, the first year black and white students attended classes together. Not everyone is happy about desegregation, and Craig is disturbed by the prejudice he witnesses on his visit to the past. In the present, Craig smells smoke where there is no fire and burns his hand on a doorknob that suddenly turns red hot. Unearthing secrets someone at Shady River has carefully buried, Craig plunges back in time and into danger, desperate to prevent a tragic death. Trapped with Luceille in the heat and smoke of the burning school, Craig discovers that the past is more difficult to change than he ever imagined.

The Phoenix’s Perspective

Before we get to the actual review of the book, I would like to point out that I received this signed copy of the book as a result of  GoodReads holds many giveaways each month allowing readers to be exposed to books that have just come out and some that aren’t even out yet.  Thanks GoodReads!

I have to admit that, when I put down this 87 page book, I felt unsettled.  I wasn’t sure whether I really liked the book, whether it had been a waste of time or was it really somewhere in between.

THE LIKES: I think the subject matter is really important.  A lot of kids, especially nowadays, are so far removed from the past that freedoms are often taken for granted and the struggles/horrors that it took to get that freedom have been long forgotten.

Also, it was great to see Teper drive home the idea that one person can change the future and that our past (personally and beyond) does not have to dictate who we will become.  It was wonderful to see the embedded message of thinking about every choice you make because you will live with it for the rest of your life.

THE DISLIKES: I felt like the story was semi-rush and, at times, choppy and underdeveloped. My main issue was character development.  Craig and his mom move in with his grandad.  His mom is a new teacher at a new school, yet the science teacher is miraculously in love with her and she returns the love.  Craig’s father has passed away – when? how?  Other than Lucille, the main characters from 1968 are not really explained other than being part of the events.  There is clearly a connection between Lucille and Joe, but we never know what it is.

OVERALL: I think it is a good book, but would be even better if it was more developed.

Would I add it to the library?

I don’t think so. I really like the idea behind the whole story line. I think it is a really important topic for kids to learn about.  Perhaps the story was written in a manner that is good enough for 10-12 year olds, but for me, I would have liked more.


Genre: Mystery
ISBN: 9780880925341
Rating:  meh

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