With no memory of a family or even her own name, a little girl is found in dung pile trying to keep warm by a midwife. She names her Dung Beetle and offers to make her an apprentice. Dung Beetle, later called Alyce, learns hard lessons of life as she tries to make the midwife happy so that she can have a warm place to stay and food to eat, two things she had never recalls having for the past 12 or 13 years of her life. Alyce laters runs away because of her feelings of failure and becomes an inn keeper's helper until the midwife comes to the inn. Alyce struggles to overcome feelings of guilt and low self-confidence while trying to decide what she wants from life.
I really enjoyed this book. The story was simple to Crispin: Cross of Lead. I found myself frustrated that the author didn't place Alyce in a time or location until almost near the end of the book. Cushman gives many implicit clues but no real explicit ones. The front cover helped me know she was in medevial England. If a school teacher is reading this to his or her class, I recommend they start at the end of the book with Author's Note. This will help all be clear for the story. I loved Alyce's character arc, timeless principals for children of all ages. I recommend this book for grades 3 - 7.