The Puppeteer’s Apprentice by D. Anne Love, 2003
When young Mouse first sets eyes on the dancing puppets her heart soars. She knows becoming a puppeteer is what she is meant to do. Mouse has escaped from the manor where she worked as a kitchen maid after experiencing near-starvation and terrible brutality. By contrast, the acquaintances she meets along the road offer her kindness and friendship. Still, she must make a living for herself and she will do anything to be accepted as the puppeteer’s apprentice after she sees a performance for the first time.
The puppeteer is mysterious and demanding but Mouse learns and succeeds in her new life. She feels a real connection to the wood and cloth puppets, a connection the puppeteer understands. Mystery and menace surround them and Mouse must face a terrible threat and danger to protect her new world.
Set in the Middle Ages, this story and the character of Mouse are just wonderful. This is a beautiful story, not too long, 192 pages. A lovely gem of a book, I am so glad I read it.