HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Walking Through Walls
Author: Karen Cioffi
Illustrator: Aidana WillowRaven
Publisher: 4RV Publishing, 2011
Language level: 1 (nothing objectionable)
Reading level: Grades 6-8
Rating: 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Cioffi, Karen. Walking Through Walls (published in 2011 by 4RV Publishing, P. O. Box 6482, Edmond, OK 73083). If you could ask for one magical gift, what would it be? Wang lives in sixteenth century China with his father, who is a farmer, his mother, and his sister SuLin. While he works with his father in the fields, Wang does not want to be a farmer. He has been reading about the Eternals, a group of magicians, and wants to join them so that he can learn magic in order to become rich and famous. Many people don’t believe in the Eternals. He asks his father, the Mayor, Dr. Lee, and the village Elder where they can be located, but none of them can tell him how to find the Eternals. However, his sister had overheard her friend’s father speaking about them one day, so she tells him that they can be found in the Lao Mountains to the east, and he leaves the next day to go. It is a long and difficult journey, but Wang eventually arrives.
Although the Eternal Master is at first hesitant because Wang’s heart is not yet pure, he finally agrees to accept Wang as an apprentice and tells him to room with Chen who has come to learn magic to help find his sister who has been kidnapped by soldiers from a neighboring village. However, for nearly a year, all the apprentices do is chop wood and carry water. The only magic Wang sees is one night when he can’t sleep and spies on a party given by the Master where people arrive by walking through walls. After a time, Wang becomes disenchanted and decides to leave. He confronts the Master and asks for one magical gift in return for his labor. The Master says yes, and Wang says that he wants the ability to walk through walls. His secret aim is to go back home and use his ability to steal from the rich. Will he carry his plan out? Or will he learn better? What will happen to Wang?
Not only is Walking Through Walls, which is based on an old Chinese folktale, a well-written and fun story to read but it also illustrates many essential life lessons, such as the importance of hard work and perseverance, the need for honest character, and not always taking the easy way out. In addition, there is a lot of interesting description about medieval China which will serve to introduce youngsters to that culture. In the back there are reading comprehension questions and activities to help students get more from the experience of reading the book, plus additional material about daily living in China during the Ming Dynasty period (A.D. 1368-1644), including family life, foods, occupations, and dragons. Illustrator Aidana WillowRaven’s simple but realistic drawings are a nice bonus. Author Karen Cioffi loves how reading can bring children to new worlds and amazing adventures. She gets high praise from this reviewer for a wonderful tale that middle grade readers will enjoy.