The Midwife's Apprentice

by Karen Cushman

Beetle is a small, straggly girl living in 14th century England who has been on her... read more

Beetle is a small, straggly girl living in 14th century England who has been on her own for as long as she can remember. She has no memory of a home or family or even of her real name. She lives by her wits, surviving hand to mouth, until she is taken in by Jane Sharp, the local midwife, to work in exchange for two meals a day and a bed on her cottage floor. Once she is freed from the daily struggle to survive, the girl begins to notice small details in the world around her, from the flowers blooming in spring to the mysterious techniques used by the midwife as she assists in the birth of a child. Her search for identity soon becomes the central focus of the book as she begins to gain in confidence and self-esteem. Karen Cushman is especially gifted at creating the ambience of the Middle Ages and at showing what medieval life might have been like for ordinary people. Like her previous book Catherine, Called Birdy (Clarion, 1994), this novel is filled with colorful details: the taste of flat ale and moldy bread, the feel of mud and muck under bare feet, the sights, sounds and smells of a time when children were much less protected from the bawdier aspects of life. Honor Book, 1995 CCBC Newbery Award Discussion (Ages 9-14)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 1995

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