Looking for a children's fantasy novel about a poor boy working at a circus who rescues a Chinese girl with bound feet who's a prisoner in one of the attractions. Takes place in medieval Europe, I think. They're on the run and get rescued by a witch or an old woman who heals the girl's feet by breaking the bones and then teaches her how to walk again. The boy and the girl go on a quest together. There may be a dragon involved. Wasn't a picture book and it had chapters. Read it between 2002 and 2008, but was probably published way earlier. Wish I had more info, thanks!
I loved a book as a child (would have been reading it in the early 1990s), an old fashioned one with a hard cover bound in blue linen and fairly thick. I think there might have been a bird cage with a bird in it on the spine. It also would have had a different slip cover when it was new. I think it was called something like ‘Book for Girls’ or ‘Stories/Tales for Girls’
It was aimed at older girls, and had a variety of short historical stories in it, with female protagonists. It was interspersed with full page black and white ink illustrations, but not many, maybe one or two for each short story.
I think there was an Ursula Le Guin story in it, but I could also be confusing that with other books.
I know for certain that there was a story about a woman whose castle was under siege and the people in it are starving. There was also a historical love story where a man jumped over a women’s wall and starts to court her, even though she is married. She almost runs away with him, but he is actually a criminal so she stays with her husband, who brings her roses he picked himself, even though he was cut by the thorns. There was also a Chinese love story that was a ghost story, where the love between two young people is forbidden by her family. In the end maybe one turns into a swan? Or they both die?
Any help really appreciated, I have been trying to find this book for 7 years!
A fantasy middle-grade novel I read in the mid-80s, with a green Chinese dragon on the cover. The dragon belonged to a Chinese girl who rode it in a circus and put on a thick Chinese accent for the punters, but could actually speak English perfectly.
She was one of the magical characters helping the two child protagonists on their adventure: another was a witch who had long hair which flew about when she was casting spells. She made an illusory double of one of the children (called a Semblance) so they wouldn’t be missed.
At one point the protagonists and their flying carpet were swallowed by some kind of evil spirit that had a dark stormy space inside it. They started calling the spirit the Glutton to make fun of it, and the witch put her head in her hands as if she was despairing so nobody could see her hair flying about when she used her magic to get them out.