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Page (Protector of the Small)

Keladry of Mindelan has returned to the royal palace of Tortall, where she fights to maintain the rigorous regimen of a page while confronting the prejudices that come with being a female in a man's world. And if that isn't hard enough, she's also starting to get something suspiciously like a crush on her closest friend, the handsome and sarcastic Neal. Yet Kel has much to be grateful for as well: a loyal circle of friends, an ill-tempered but lovable horse, and a scruffy dog who would give his life for her. Then one day, a group of pages is trapped by bandits, and the boys depend on Kel to lead them. Could it be a sign of things to come? Suddenly those in power are looking at Kel in a whole new way, wondering if she can succeed far beyond what they imagined.
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Gr 5-8-Though Keladry has the courage and determination necessary to be a page, she's the only female among the teens and tweens training to become knights in this novel (Random, 2000) by Tamora Pierce. Mixing magic and medieval settings, the author continues the series begun with First Test (Random, 1999). Her year is off to a busy start when she unexpectedly adds a stray dog and a timorous maid to her list of responsibilities. Both prove loyal and caring as do her friends. The young noblewoman is not afraid to challenge her taunters when they harass her or haze first year students. After a brawl gets them all in trouble, practice with swords, axes, and spears keep them all too tired to rekindle the fight. Over the next three years, serving at the midwinter feast teaches courtly manners and summer treks develop tactical skills. When Keladry and several friends are attacked, she shows her leadership gifts and saves the group from almost certain death or capture. Keladry grows into a young woman now drawn romantically to old friend Neal. On the day of the final page test, Keladry's maid and dog are kidnapped and choosing to rescue them displays her inner strength. Bernadette Dunne narrates with smooth assurance, giving even minor characters distinctive voices. While there's enough adventure here for guys, Keladry's concerns about getting her period and developing a feminine physique make Page appealing to girls facing the same issues.-Barbara Wysocki, Cora J. Belden Library, Rocky Hill, CT Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

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