I previously reviewed David Neilsen’s deliciously creepy DR. FELL AND THE PLAYGROUND OF DOOM. This new story may not be quite as creepy, but the level of mystery is off the charts. Doors don’t sound all too interesting, but when they lead you to family memories—let the page turning begin.
Eleven year old Zack with one older sister and two younger ones embark on a dangerous journey to the past. Getting stuck there is a real possibility. With Dad in the hospital and Mom leaving six years prior, it’s up to them to bring understanding to the makeup of their family and hopefully bring them back together.
Adventure, quirky fun humor, and realistic sibling dynamics will please middle grade readers looking for a late summer escape. An impressive follow-up to David’s first book.
PUBLICATION DATE: 2017 PAGE COUNT: 368
FULL PLOT (From AMAZON): When a family disaster forces the four Rothbaum children to live with their aunt Gladys, they immediately know there is something strange about their new home. The crazy, circular house looks like it stepped out of a scary movie. The front entrance is a four-story-tall drawbridge. And the only food in Aunt Gladys’s kitchen is an endless supply of Honey Nut Oat Blast Ring-a-Dings cereal.
Strangest of all are the doors—there are none. Every doorway is a wide-open passageway—even the bathroom! Who lives in a house with no doors?
Their unease only grows when Aunt Gladys disappears for long stretches of time, leaving them alone to explore the strange house. When they discover just what Aunt Gladys has been doing with all her doors, the shocked siblings embark on an adventure that changes everything they believe about their family and the world.
FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT: BEYOND THE DOORS by David Neilsen
- Full page art work scattered throughout break up the text. It will help those not ready for a book of this size to rest their eyes and enjoy the images.
- Unlike Dr. Fell… this story wraps up all of the plot points in a nice neat package. No need for a sequel although I’d welcome another visit with this family.
- The adult characters are little help to the kids. Between their tears and memories disappearing, it’s the perfect set-up for what many middle graders crave: reading about kids solving problems on their own.
- The author is a professional story teller and it pays off in his writing. You’ll feel a part of each world he creates.
- Time travel, mystery, and fantasy is a perfect combination for those in need of a little escapism.
Every head in the classroom turned toward Zack at the same time, twisting in perfect unison with the precision of a Broadway chorus line. He tried not to squirm under the undivided attention of his entire class, but having forty-five eyes staring at him at once (two each for twenty-one students and Mrs. Gizznulf, plus Tom Gillogily’s nonglass eye) caused his sweat glands to dribble irritating beads down his forehead.
MUSINGS FROM THE AUTHOR (From March, 2017 on his web site):
The edits are an interesting situation. I mean the book is done. Done, done, done. And now not done. Two things came up.
First, they have decided that I do something too cruel to one of the characters and I must dial it back so that children don’t run into the forest screaming in misery and horror.
Second, I need to change every description of a particular character.
Me: “Why do I need to do this?”
Them: “Because his description doesn’t match the art.”
Me: “Well, the description came first. Shouldn’t the art change?”
Them: “Art is expensive. You are not.”
And so one character is getting an upgrade. Lucky guy.
It’s fun going back into Beyond the Doors, reading bits of it as I edit. A bit like reintroducing myself to an old friend. All kidding aside, the final art looks fantastic, and really compliments the story well, and I’m very fond of these characters.
I can’t wait to introduce them to you.
Make a comment below. I enjoy reading all of them.
Check the links to other Middle Grade novels over at Shannon Messenger’s Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post.