Walking Through Walls Awards and Reviews

Walking Through Walls, recipient of the 
Children's Literary Classics 
2012 Silver Award!

Review from the Children's Literary Classics Seal of Approval Blog

March 2012


From Feather Quill:

Title: Walking Through Walls
By: Karen Cioffi
Illustrated by: Aidana WllowRaven
Publisher: 4RV Publishing
Publication Date: June 2011
ISBN: 978-0-9826594-7-2
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: March 2011

This children’s fantasy book explores an ancient Chinese tale that teaches a true lesson to children and adults of all ages, while providing a magical adventure that no reader will ever forget.

Twelve-year-old Wang wants desperately to become an Eternal. He has studied books and information regarding these famous beings that most people see as a myth. Wang believes that he can find the Eternals and become a part of their world. And once he’s joined their community, he can learn what the mystics know and find himself the wealth and power that he wants more than anything.

His father does not believe in the Eternals and wants nothing more than for his son, Wang, to join him in the fields. There, with hard work and sweat, Wang can perhaps work with his father to buy their very own acreage of the wheat field in order to feed the family and have some sort of future.

Wang can’t stand the blood, sweat, and tears that come from “fieldwork” and decides to speak to the Mayor of the village as well as the Elder of the village who knows where the Eternals are located. The Elder explains to Wang that if all he is after is money and power, that the Eternals will not be the place he can “find” himself.

Wang decides to begin his journey and leaves his family behind. He doesn’t want the hard work, he chooses the wealth over worth. Up a dangerous, rugged trail, Wang finally stumbles across the Eternals and the Master who tells Wang that in order to learn from the Eternals and find the magic within himself, he must work hard. While up in the mountains Wang meets a young boy named Chen, who has been sent to the Eternals in order to learn and go back home one day where he can then help his village.

This is a wonderful story that teaches all readers that hard work is its own reward. Going after money and power simply because you’d like to avoid actual work will never suffice. An Eternal can teach you the good and bad in life, but wealth doesn’t come with the job.

Quill Says: A fascinating fantasy story that teaches many lessons about money, loyalty, and a life that, when you contribute your hard work and time, becomes a full and well-lived experience.



From novelist and travel blogger Kristin Johnson

Wang bound the last bunch of wheat stalks as the sun beat down on the field. Sweat poured from the back of his neck drenching the cotton shirt he wore.
I hate doing this work. He hurled the bundles on a cart. “Father, the bales are stacked. I am going home; it is too hot.”

Twelve-year-old Wang longed to be an Eternal. He craved wealth . . . and power….

So opens Karen Cioffi’s retelling of a classic Chinese fable. In just a few sentences of this 61-page children’s book, she establishes the main character, a disgruntled twelve-year-old boy, and the conflict, his dreams of a life away from unending hard work on his family farm. She also hints at a mystery: what is an Eternal?

In short order, Cioffi also introduces us to a bit more of Wang’s personality. Like any 12-year-old, he fights with his sister and his father. He knows his father wants him to work on the farm rather than daydream about learning magic and being “the richest man in all of China”.  When he receives a dream visitation from the dragon illustrated on the cover—think ERAGON set in China—Wang decides his father can’t keep him on his peasant farm any more.

After Wang goes to the Elder of his village, a lemon-loving mystic, and asks the way to the Eternals’ home, he ends up more confused than ever. In typical martial-arts movie fashion the Elder speaks in cryptic messages before scolding Wang for seeking wealth and power for their own sake: “I cannot give you the information you seek. Your heart has already spoken. Go home and set your sights on learning
patience and virtue.”

Oddly, Wang’s younger sister helps him, because of her sweet nature—or perhaps she wants to teach the arrogant Wang about a girl’s worth. The true value of a person—character, kindness, integrity—is a common theme in this story and Cioffi brings it out quite well. She also subtly highlights the Confucian society of the time, where “respect your elders, especially males” is paramount, and the Asian ethos, in which the group is much more important than the individual. Wang, like many child heroes, rebels against his family and society to seek his own way—and learns a lesson. You have to give Wang credit for pursuing what he wants and for undertaking his perilous journey to the distant mountaintop to find the Eternals (This is what you want: you must follow through, he thinks). While Wang’s journey may seem reckless, he shows some guts and courage in leaving his family to pursue his dream.

There’s a lovely moment in which Wang’s father gently touches him and asks him to stay. It’s an understated and in-character way of showing that Wang’s father is concerned, for the first time, about his son leaving home—a deeply human emotion.  Wang does not understand until much later—he is too excited about seeing the mystical temple of the Eternals materialize after his long perilous trek.

Wang’s impressions of the temple capture my own awe whenever I visit Asian temples such as Wat Pho, Senso-Ji, Sanjusangendo, and shrines in Taiwan, even though in keeping with a fable like this, the temple’s plain exterior belies its grand interior (representing, perhaps, the richness of the Eternals’ spiritual life). Although I have never met an Eternal Master, I imagine he (she?) would be just like the one in Walking Through Walls (many of the Buddhist rimbans and reverends I’ve met have senses of humor to package their lessons). The Eternal Master is the equivalent of a magical drill sergeant—not what Wang expected. Everything about the Eternals, from their strict regimen of simple food and hard work to their habit of appearing and disappearing, confounds Wang—although he begins to understand a bit more of the world when he meets his roommate Chen and hears of Chen’s quest to help his village and rescue his sister by becoming an Eternal. Chen’s story kindles compassion in Wang’s heart, but not enough to make him gain patience. With all the magic around him, Wang is hungry to become an Eternal himself, especially after he sees the more advanced students walking through walls after a midnight feast. Is it a dream? Is it a test? Wang decides he must learn to walk through walls.

Wang endures his peculiar education for a year before deciding to leave, despite his best friend Chen’s hope of having an ally in his quest. The Eternal Master teaches him the longed-for spell of walking through walls, even though he lectures Wang about not being pure of heart or worthy of the Eternals’ great power. Of course, Wang does learn the spell—and faces a test of his character once he returns home. During that test, I bit my nails and then screamed, “Don’t do it,” when Wang was about to make the wrong choice. Cioffi makes us care about Wang in spite of, or perhaps because, of his character flaws. In addition to the magic of the storytelling, the sense of wonder never lets up—enchanted snakes and other creatures follow Wang as he chooses his destiny, and we learn that the Eternal Master is even more extraordinary than he appears…

In addition to the story, Cioffi provides dragon lore, a brief, easily readable history (and cultural facts) of the Ming Dynasty during which the story is set, and activities and questions for young readers.

Kristin J. Johnson is a ghostwriter, novelist, screenwriter, poet, travel blogger, freelance writer and children's book author who has deep affection for Asia.


From Stories for Children:

Title: Walking Through Walls
Author: Karen Cioffi
Illustrator: Aidana WillowRaven
Published by: 4RV Publishing, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-9826594-7-2
Ages: 11-14
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by: Wayne S. Walker

Synopsis: 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?

Overall thoughts: 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.


From Author and Educator Kathy Stemke:

Title: Walking Through Walls

Author: Karen Cioffi
Illustrator: Adriana Willow Raven
Published by:  4RV Publishing
ISBN: 978-0-9826594-7-2

In her new middle grade chapter book, “Walking Through Walls,” Karen Cioffi takes you on an incredible journey with her main character, Wang.  He longs to learn the magic of the Eternals.

Twelve-year-old Wang longed to be an Eternal. He craved wealth . . . and power. Spending his time learning about these mystics took his thoughts away from the certain fate of slaving in the wheat fields all his life, like his father. The wheat fields might be good for some, but not for Wang. He had higher goals.

Each step of Wang’s journey is full of mystery, challenges and life lessons. Children will enjoy reading this charming ancient legend with a new twist as they experience Mrs. Cioffi’s exciting world of fantasy.  They will learn about Chinese customs because this story is rich in authentic details like the foods, homes, crops, and locations of sixteenth century China.

"Wang ambled back to the cottage. He noticed his favorite flower, the lemon lilies, in full bloom. They draped the landscape. Hmm, they smell so good. He found his mother in the chicken coop, bent over one of the hens, gathering the eggs it deposited. “Mother, I am home.”

Artist, Adriana Willow Raven, opens each chapter with a detailed illustration to stimulate the reader’s imagination.  Like the vibrant dragon on the cover, each illustration is rich in oriental detail. 

As a retired teacher, I highly recommend this book for every school and home library.  It is a book that will be treasured by the whole family.


From author, writer, teacher, speaker Margo Dill:

*Chapter book, fantasy
*12-year-old boy as main character
*Rating: Both children and adults will love Walking Through Walls. For kids, it’s an exciting story that keeps them guessing to the end what’s going to happen and what decisions the main character is going to make. For adults? Well, we all love good writing, and Walking Through Walls is a perfect example of that! WillowRaven’s illustrations add class to the story. (The book is 62 pages–perfect for a summer read at summer school or at home!)

Short, short summary: (Note: Walking Through Walls is based on an ancient Chinese tale.) Wang is tired of working in his father’s wheat field. It is too much work and not enough money. He wants to get rich and be powerful. So, he decides he’s going to find the magical Eternals because if he becomes one, he can get what he wants. He goes off in spite of making his parents sad, and he finds where other boys are training. He is anxious to learn magic and become rich; but the Eternals are very smart, and training is actually very hard work. Wang is impatient and only focused on greed. How will the Eternals train him? Will he learn what is actually important? Will he become an Eternal?

This book is available on Amazon or RV4 Publishing. You can find out more information here: http://walkingthroughwalls-kcioffi.blogspot.com/

So, what do I do with this book?

Besides being a terrific book, the author has included a lot of material in the back of the book for teachers, parents, homeschoolers, and her readers! She has questions, activities, and more information about the time period of The Ming Dynasty.

Here are a couple of her sample activities:

1. Write a list of five qualities that you think give a person value.
2. Draw a picture of a dragon.
3. Continue the book–write a sequel of what happens to Wang after the book’s end.

Margo L. Dill: many-hat wearer: WOW! Women On Writing staff, business and children's writer, Editor 911, freelancer, speaker, teacher, mom, stepmom, dog owner
And, this is a comment Margo made in response to a comment on the post:
It is a great story. I was really impressed. I hope a lot of people, especially people looking for books for boys, will check it out!

See the link above to her site.


From author Maranda Russell

I have always loved Eastern mythology, so I was very excited to read and review the new chapter book, “Walking Through Walls”, which was written by Karen Cioffi and illustrated by WillowRaven.  The story is based on an ancient Chinese tale about the Eternals.  For those of you unfamiliar with the legends, Eternals were God-like human beings who carried divine powers, such as the ability to turn into any creature they desire, walk through walls, live forever and perform feats similar to those of a superhero.  Since the Eternals are also pure in heart and intentions, only those who are unselfish and caring can become Eternals.

The main character in “Walking Through Walls” is a young boy named Wang.  Wang is dissatisfied with his life.  He dreams of being rich and powerful, but knows that if he stays at home he will likely just become a poor field worker.  So Wang sets out on a journey to become an Eternal, even though it is against the wishes of his family.

At first, I really liked Wang.  After all, he is a dreamer who wants a better life and is willing to take the risks necessary to pursue his dream.  However, it becomes apparent fairly soon that Wang is also extremely selfish, greedy and somewhat lazy.  Wang does find an Eternal willing to let him become an apprentice, but the hard work and selflessness necessary to become an Eternal soon has Wang ready to give up on the noble path.

Soon it looks like all hope is lost for Wang and that he has turned to the dark side, but don’t worry, the story does have a happy ending.  By the last page, the story meets a resolution that is both satisfactory and inspirational.  The book does include several morals, but they are hidden within the action so that they don’t intrude upon the story.

There are a few black and white illustrations spread throughout the book, but the majority of its 61 pages are filled with text.  This book might be a little overwhelming for a brand new reader, but it isn’t a hard or extremely long read, so it’s perfect for children who are ready to make the transition to chapter books or who have already successfully made the switch.  The few illustrations in the book are drawn well and really add to the enjoyment of the book.  There are also a few extra sections at the end of the book, including reading comprehension questions, activities to go along with the story, a brief lesson in Chinese history and information about the mythology surrounding Chinese dragons.

“Walking Through Walls” is a great read, and I would definitely recommend it to parents who want to buy their child an entertaining but meaningful story.  Walking Through Walls is available through 4RV Publishing, Amazon, Kindle, and Barnes and Noble.com. You can ask for it at your local bookstore also!


From author Nancy Famolari

Delightful Retelling of a Chinese Folktale

Wang wants to be a rich man, but as the son of a poor farmer what chance does he have? The Eternals know magic. Wang believes that if he can learn magic, he can become rich and powerful. The story traces Wang through his adventures: finding the temple of the Eternals, becoming an apprentice, and after a year, feeling the work is too hard for his objective of becoming rich. The climax of the story puts these elements together to show how Wang develops and his heart finally shows it's goodness.

I enjoyed the tale. The characters and setting draw you in. I particularly liked the illustration of the dragon on the cover. The writing is clear. Children should have no trouble reading the story for themselves. The author provides activity suggestions and questions for use in a group situation. I also enjoyed the historical appendix that discusses the Ming dynasty and how the Chinese lived in that era.

I highly recommend this book. It makes an excellent selection for group discussion.

Nancy Famolari is the author of The Lake House


From children's writer Marge Gower

Wang believes in the Eternals. He knows there are Eternals walking among the people of China. He is in awe of their magical skills. It’s said that they can create light, lift an elephant with one hand, and even walk through walls. They could be anyone in the neighborhood. Many seek their powers. Wang wants to gain their powers to become rich.

Walking Through Walls kept me wondering if twelve-year-old Wang was going to go to the evil side or see the light. He goes through many trials during his journey to find the Eternals and wealth, but he isn't aware that he has unseen help all the way.

I read Walking Through Walls in one sitting. This is an intriguing tale that will be enjoyed by all ages.

This book left me wanting to read more by the author. Karen has published other books including Day’s End Lullaby.


From award-winning author Donna McDine

With each turn of the page pass through time to 16th Century ancient China where the legend of the Eternals mesmerizes twelve-year-old Wang. Determined not to live a poor farmer’s life like his father, Wang dreams of becoming rich and powerful and adamantly believes the Eternals are his answer. Unable to accept his poor man’s destiny, Wang declares he is leaving his family to journey to the Eternals home in the Loa Mountains.

Upon his arrival, Wang begins his apprenticeship with the Master Eternal, who believes that Wang’s personality will not allow him to succeed in his quest. Ignoring the Master Eternal’s insight into Wang’s often lazy personality Wang begins his apprenticeship. From the onset Wang is frustrated and annoyed by the slow apprenticeship process and threatens to quit several times. After the conclusion of the first year Wang does indeed quit, but has one last request of the Master Eternal; “teach me how to walk through walls.” The Master Eternal reluctantly teaches Wang this technique with a stern warning not to use this ability for evil.

Yet again, ignoring the Master Eternal’s advice, Wang eagerly beings his long journey home with visions how he can steal from the rich without them knowing, subsequently making himself rich with other’s fortunes. Exactly what the Master Eternal directed him not to do.

Unbeknownst to Wang the most difficult apprenticeship training continues during his travels home and upon his arrival. Will Wang discover the road to true happiness or will he succumb to the dark side? Learn all about Wang’s true destiny in Karen Cioffi’s fantasy Chinese tale and become immersed in 16th Century China.


From author Deb Hockenberry

Twelve-year-old Wang wants a different life than his father has.  His father spends his days toiling in the hot sun gathering wheat.  No, he doesn’t want a farmer’s life at all.  It’s too hard and back breaking!  Wang wants to learn magic and to be an Eternal so he can be rich and powerful. Then he could get everything he wants.  Or can he?

Wang had to find out where the Eternals live. First he asked the mayor if he knew where the Eternals lived. The Mayor had no idea and sent him to the town’s doctor but he doesn’t know either. At last, he has another idea about who to ask. Will this person know? Will Wang find the Eternals and learn the magic that he desperately wants?

In this magical children’s book, Karen Cioffi takes us along on Wangs’ journey to learn magic.  During this journey, Wang finds out that he can only use the Eternal’s magic for good.  Will he become rich and powerful this way?

After the story, Ms. Cioffi includes some questions and activities for the reader. She also describes a bit of the Chinese culture for us and tells us what a Chinese dragon is said to look like.  I found this very interesting!

I highly recommend this entertaining and magical book. Not only is Walking Through Walls a fun book to read but in the words of Mr. Bill Cosby, “be careful or you just might learn something!”


And, this is my very first Amazon Review:

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Tale for Kids, July 22, 2011
By M. Richard "mrichard" (Missouri)
This review is from: Walking Through Walls (Paperback)
I enjoyed this book immensely and think it is a good addition to any elementary school library or homeschool shelf. I think boys will love it, and I would gladly use it for any reluctant reader. Karen has done an amazing job relaying this story, and the illustrations are remarkable!