When I first met the protagonist in this medieval England village, I wasn't sure I wanted to know her. She literally stepped from a dung heap - not exactly the person you want to identify with. Day by day, though, she grows and risks and reaches to know herself and take all from life she can. Now, that's a person I want to know. Beetle is apprenticed to a nasty, old, piece-of-work midwife, and she pays attention, but has very little self-confidence at first acquaintance. You really do find yourself feeling as though you know what she's going through and you can smell the dung and feel the limits of her world. Hoping that she will triumph over her condition leads you on and on. It's just great. This book is the 1996 Newbery Medal winner. 128 pages Ages 9-12
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