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The Midwife's Apprentice by Karen Cushman

The Midwife's Apprentice (1995)

by Karen Cushman

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Summary: A homeless girl is taken in by a midwife who is looking for a helper. The girl become a midwifes apprentice, gaining self respect, a place to be, and a content life after so long.
Criteria: Critique of Genre: historical fiction- Dated back in the fourteenth century in medieval England this story portrays the times in a way that connects readers to their current lives and compassion.
Age: older primary, intermediate, secondary
Media: calligraphy, painting ( )
  hwestin | Apr 20, 2017 |
Technically written for 3rd-5th graders, the details of childbirth and, in one case, insinuations of an extramarital affair, made me uncomfortable (and I've delivered 3 babies of my own).
Aside from that, I found the main character, Alyce, one of the most depressing characters I've ever read. She seems determined to be miserable. Even the "happy" ending was pathetic.
Two stars, only because I did actually finish it. ( )
  benandhil | Sep 28, 2016 |
Great kids story about a young homeless girl in the Middle Ages who becomes a midwife. Moral is never give up. Excellent feel for the time in England in a small village, as well as information on medicinal herbs. ( )
  pennykaplan | Jun 7, 2016 |
I really like Alyce. This book is more a story about a really nice character than a story that works as a moving narrative. She learns that she wasn't ready to be a midwife not because she failed, but "because she gave up" p.88 which is a great lesson for young readers. ( )
  CALammert | Apr 13, 2016 |
Such a sweet, well-written book about a young orphan who finds her way in early England. One of the most poignant parts is when she determines that her name is "Alyce" and how she convinces others of that.

She says: "My name is Alyce, not Brat or Dung Beetle or Beetle. Alyce."

When she believes in herself enough to insist upon a name, you know that she will survive and thrive. I came across this on Audible, love the narrator, and it's an easy listen, as well as a good rest from edgy adult books that are so prevalent these days. ( )
  sydsavvy | Apr 8, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 96 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Karen Cushmanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hyman, Trina S.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ibatoulline, BagramCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Philip and Dinah,
Alyce's midwives
First words
When animal droppings and garbage and spoiled straw are piled up in a great heap, the rotting and moiling give forth heat.
She chewed on a lock of her hair to help her think. What did people want? Blackberry pie? New shoes? A snug cottage and a bit of land? She thought all that wet afternoon and finally, as she served Magister Reese his cold-beef-and-bread supper, she cleared her throat a time or two and then sofly answered: “I know what I want. A full belly, a contented heart, and a place in this world.”
If Beetle had known any prayers, she might have prayed for the cat. If she had known about soft sweet songs, she might have sung to him. If she had known of gentle words and cooing, she would have spoken gently to him. But all she knew was cursing: “Damn you, cat, breathe and live, you flea-bitten sod, or I'll kill you myself.”
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
A homeless girl in Medieval England finds a place when she becomes a midwife's apprentice.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 006440630X, Paperback)

Karen Cushman likes to write with her tongue firmly planted in her cheek, and her feisty female characters firmly planted in history. In The Midwife's Apprentice, which earned the 1996 Newbery Medal, this makes a winning combination for children and adult readers alike. Like her award-winning book Catherine, Called Birdy, the story takes place in medieval England. This time our protagonist is Alyce, who rises from the dung heap (literally) of homelessness and namelessness to find a station in life--apprentice to the crotchety, snaggletoothed midwife Jane Sharp. On Alyce's first solo outing as a midwife, she fails to deliver. Instead of facing her ignorance, Alyce chooses to run from failure--never a good choice. Disappointingly, Cushman does not offer any hardships or internal wrestling to warrant Alyce's final epiphanies, and one of the book's climactic insights is when Alyce discovers that lo and behold she is actually pretty! Still, Cushman redeems her writing, as always, with historical accuracy, saucy dialogue, fast-paced action, and plucky, original characters that older readers will eagerly devour. (Ages 12 and older) --Gail Hudson

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:23 -0400)

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In medieval England, a nameless, homeless girl is taken in by a sharp-tempered midwife, and in spite of obstacles and hardship, eventually gains the three things she most wants: a full belly, a contented heart, and a place in this world.

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