From School Library Journal
Grade 4-6-Abandoned at Dunston Manor as a baby, Mouse was raised as a scullery maid and brutally treated for years. When Cook slashes her face with a meat hook in anger, the child takes to the road. She meets some kindly travelers, but is reminded again and again that she is on her own. Then she happens upon a puppet show, and is completely mesmerized. She asks to become the puppeteer's apprentice, but is flatly turned down. Despite the rejection, she stows away on top of the wagon, and again begs the performer to teach her how to make the puppets come alive. This time, she is grudgingly accepted. As they travel the countryside, Mouse cooks and cleans and, in return, learns the art and craft of a puppeteer. She is a quick study, whether bargaining with vendors, carving wooden figures, or manipulating puppet strings. But a dark figure lurks around the edges of the story, and the puppet theaters. Ordin makes Mouse edgy, although she doesn't know why, and readers will feel the suspense begin to build. The puppeteer, who Mouse learns is a woman traveling in disguise, is slow to reveal anything personal about her past. As the story reaches a sinister climax, she learns the puppeteer's secrets, which prove deadly. Searching throughout the story for her own identity, Mouse ultimately receives a name and experiences great sorrow on her way to fulfilling her dreams. Set in England in the Middle Ages, this wonderfully written tale holds mystery, suspense, and the realism that comes with a battle fought and won.Kit Vaughan, Chesterfield County Public Schools, VA
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Gr. 3-6. At the age of 11 or 12, a girl named Mouse runs away from Dunston Manor, where she was abandoned as a baby and put to work helping the cruel, abusive cook. Making her way to York in the company of a minstrel and his companions, she falls under the spell of a puppet show and begs the puppeteer to take her on as an apprentice. Though Mouse makes her share of mistakes, she devotes herself to their art. Violent forces from the puppeteer's mysterious past overtake them, but Mouse proves her mettle and shows herself to be worthy of trust (and a more suitable name). Appended are a source bibliography and an author's note discussing the history of puppetry from ancient Egypt through the Middle Ages to the present. Combining a likable heroine, a colorful setting, and an exciting plot, this historical adventure will capture young readers, especially those who like to imagine living in medieval times. Carolyn PhelanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved