The Midwife's Apprentice

The Midwife's Apprentice

by Karen Cushman


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A poor girl in medieval England gains a name, a purpose, and a future in this “delightful” and beloved Newbery Medal-winning book. Now with a new cover! (School Library Journal, starred review)

* “A truly delightful introduction to a world seldom seen in children’s literature.” —School Library Journal, starred review
* “A fascinating view of a far distant time.” —Horn Book, starred review
* “Gripping.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
A girl known only as Brat has no family, no home, and no future until she meets Jane the Midwife and becomes her apprentice. As she helps the short-tempered Jane deliver babies, Brat—who renames herself Alyce—gains knowledge, confidence, and the courage to want something in life for the first time. Introduction by Lois Lowry.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781328631121
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 07/30/2019
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 144
Sales rank: 58,947
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.30(d)
Age Range: 11 - 14 Years

About the Author

Karen Cushman’s acclaimed historical novels include Catherine, Called Birdy, a Newbery Honor winner. She lives on Vashon Island in Washington State., @cushmanbooks

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"With simplicity, wit, and humor, Cushman presents another tale of medieval England. Here readers follow the satisfying, literal and figurative journey of a homeless, nameless child called Brat. . . . Earthy humor, the foibles of humans both high and low, and a fascinating mix of superstition and genuinely helpful herbal remedies attached to childbirth make this a truly delightful introduction to a world seldom seen in children’s literature."
—School Library Journal, Starred

"This novel is about a strong, young woman in medieval England who finds her own way home. . . . Kids will be caught up in this short, fast-paced narrative about a hero who discovers that she’s not ugly or stupid or alone."
—Booklist, ALA, Starred Review

Customer Reviews

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The Midwife's Apprentice 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 127 reviews.
jamin0610 More than 1 year ago
Book title and author: The Midwife’s Apprentice by Karen Cushman Title of review: Could’ve Been Better Number of stars (1 to 5): 4 and ½ Introduction This book was about a poor girl without a name, a home, and without love. She walks from town to town working for barely to no food and a night in the stables. She found herself in a new little town where she crawled into a dung heap for warmth. The village boys then decided her name was beetle because of how she burrowed into the dung heap. Jane Sharp, the midwife of the town, found beetle in the heap and commanded the boys to stop, then gave beetle a job as her apprentice, beetle was now the midwife’s apprentice. I loved this book due to its drama and surprises. Description and summary of main points This book was very well written and the author really knows how to put herself into another’s shoes and tell a very vibrant yet extravagant story. Alice was a poor girl, without a penny to her name, worked her way up until she could actually help as a midwife. She was a very emotional girl, who risked her own life to save a cat after the village boys tried to drown it in a bag with an eel. She saved the cat and then ended up saving one of the boys after he fell in and was left by his so called ‘friends’. This was merely the start of her amazing adventure through life and dealing with trouble, sinful villagers, a promiscuous baker, and her new friend Purr. Evaluation I loved this book because of how the vivid details all melted in with the action and drama that happened around every corner. There was always something going on and it was well described and detailed to the point of reality. The way the words would drag you into the book and the way the author kept the medieval time scale at hand throughout the entire book. The author never strayed too far into our time and was very equal with her writing. The way she described Alice when she found poor Edward laying in the stables nearly frozen to death, and then Alice’s heroic and bravery as she ran from the midwife in failure and nearly died sleeping in a rock crevice, was very well put. Conclusion In conclusion, this book was very well thought out and the way the author wrote the words really put the images into your mind, and made you feel as if you were standing in that little town beside the woods and feel the pain, grief, and happiness that flood through the pages like water from a broken damn gate. The author is very talented at creating vibrant images and a broad story about a little girl that has tried to make her life better and work very hard to achieve her goals. She has made many friends and enemies on her long journey from a poor girl to a well mannered woman. Your final review This book was very good in my opinion, and is a very good use of time and will open your eyes to many new genres and words. The vocabulary in this book is amazing and really sets the time and era of the book. The drama and action will keep you on the edge of your seat and will keep you turning the pages. The surprising twists and turns in the book will always keep your interest. Beetle’s journey through life will surprise you many times and how cunning and smart she is will surprise you all throughout the story. Good readings!!!!!!! Good readings!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Midwifes Apprentice
Karen Cushman
Clarion Books
Realistic Fiction

The ever changing experience of The Midwife's Apprentice is a fun learning experience written by Karen Cushman. A poor girl who was known to the town as Dung Beetle slept in a dung heap in Jane Sharp's barn, eating nothing but what they threw out. Everyone teased her and called her filthy names and cursed at her until one day she worked for Jane Sharp, as the midwife's apprentice. But that wasn't much better, Jane Sharp didn't treat her well either. She ordered her around and made her do all the things that she was too lazy to do herself. Then Dung Beetle found her first friend, Purr the cat, he meant a lot to Dung Beetle. Soon after Dung Beetle was feeling delight in herself, so she changed her name to Alice and spread it through the village hoping that people would then treat her well. After that they did treat her better but the midwife was jealous. Alice was happy.

Alice, the primary character, changes frequently throughout the story. She is a brave and loving girl who does everything her midwife, Jane Sharp, tells her to do. Jane Sharp is a completely static character, she is also the antagonist. She is very mean and bossy towards Alice and doesn't appreciate anything or anyone. Alice's best friend Purr (the cat) is very loyal to her and follows her everywhere, Purr even sneaks bread and cheese for her sometimes. Edward, Logan, and the hotel manager are all supporting characters to Alice, giving her hopes and ideas.

The Midwife's Apprentice is a fun filled story with humor. This is an action filled book that makes the reader want to keep reading. I liked this book because it made me think and it's really a good book with character for children. When I read The Midwife's Apprentice it took me back to a time, a time when there were no doctors to deliver a baby, give medicine, and tell someone if they were sick. It really made me think and learn what people had to go through. Read The Midwife's Apprentice and see what Alice went through.
hockey22 More than 1 year ago
This book is so good it took me only a day to read! I was hooked on it and I couldn't put it down. I can't imagine living back then and having no home. It's an awesome book for people who like historical fiction.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm reading this in class and we are on chapter 11 and already love it!grest book for kids ages11 and up! Totally recommened it! (:
mila12 More than 1 year ago
What would you do if you thought you were never good enough? That's the way Alyce felt in Karen Cushman's, The Midwife's Apprentice. The genre is historical fiction. This book is about an orphan girl named Beetle. She eventually changed her name to Alyce. Jane, the midwife, found Alyce in a dung heap and offered her food for work. Alyce wanted to be a midwife so she was working as an apprentice for Jane. Jane was not a very nice person. She made Alyce feel like she wasn't good enough. Will Alyce become a midwife? You will have to read the book to find out. I liked the whole book. The best part was when Alyce found Jane kissing the baker. The baker was married with 13 children! I also liked the ending, but you will have to read that part yourself. I would recommend this book for kids learning about the medieval period. I would recommend it to mostly girls 11-15 years old. It has some weird language, so if you have trouble with that, this is not the book for you.
IamHisfollower More than 1 year ago
It was great but a little too short for me, but a GREAT ending...
HomeSchoolBookReview More than 1 year ago
In medieval England, an abandoned and abused girl, about twelve or thirteen, known as Brat wanders from village to village. At one place she sleeps in a dung heap for warmth. The local midwife, Jane Sharp, finds her, calls her Dung Beetle, and, recognizing the potential for free labor, allows Beetle to work for her as an apprentice in exchange for food and lodging. Not liking her previous names, the girl begins to call herself Alyce when she is mistaken for another girl named Alyce while attending the St. Swithin’s Day Fair at Gobnet-Under-Green. However, a crisis develops when Jane is out and Alyce is called upon to help a woman giving birth, and Alyce feels that she has failed so she runs away. Where can she go? What can she do? What will happen to her? From a positive standpoint, Alyce is a strong and surprisingly compassionate character who learns not only all about the art of midwifery, but also about herself, human nature, and the resilience of the human heart. In addition, the book is historically true to the time and gives a lot of good information about herbal medicines. However, there are some pretty big negatives. As to language, there is a statement that pigs fart, and Alyce said that she near “pi**ed” herself. Furthermore, the “d” word is used once, and expressions such as “by God’s whiskers” are found. There are copious references to drinking ale, wine, “brewed [i.e. hard] cider,” and beer, and a group of boys—not men but boys--is pictured as being drunk. Given the problem of alcoholism, especially among youth, today, do we really want children reading about things like this, even if they are “historically accurate”? Worse yet are the hints of immorality. Alyce discovers the midwife having an adulterous affair with the Baker, who has a wife and thirteen children. Also, a couple is caught in the act of fornication. While there is no lewd detail, it is clear that the young people were doing more than just smooching in the hayloft. “The boy gathered his breeches and flung himself out the barn window.” This is hardly wholesome reading. And other expressions of latent sexuality are mentioned. There could have been a good story here with some beneficial lessons, but it is marred by the objectionable elements. Therefore, because of the mature content, the book can be recommended only for older readers. One source gives the age range as 9-12 years, where another says 11 and up. I would say no younger than 13+. Cushman won a 1995 Newbery Honor Award for Catherine, Called Birdy and the 1996 Newbery Medal for The Midwife's Apprentice. That doesn’t surprise me because it seems the more “adults only” content a children’s book has, the more likely it is to win a Newbery prize nowadays.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read it in school for a reading group and we stoped halfway. I was really angry because i was hooked on the book. So I got it on my nook and read the whole thing it ended well.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was gross and good!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book was very well written; the style of a collection of short stories is always enjoyable to read. It is also excellent historical fiction, and for a fairly untrained writer, I was surprised at how well the book turned out. it is a jewel, and i say the reading range is about 12+. I suggest everyone should read this.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I personally read this in the seventh grade about three months before my twelth birthday and I completely adored it, I am now eighteen and I can still remember almost the entire book. Nothing in this book was beyond what children hear and see everyday in school. If you are worried about the content read it BEFORE your child does.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Midwife's Apprentice, the story of a young poverty stricken girl with no family finding her place in life. It is set in medieval times. This well written story describes well the hardships, occupations, and costs of living of the time. It is told through the eyes of a young girl who begins with nothing and overcomes by answering the question we ultimately ask ourselves. This book is outstanding.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was ok but not great. It was good enough to keep me entertained, and into the book but not enough that I would read it over and over again. I think this book deserves 3 stars because it was fine, but it had flaws. I would recomend this book to people that can read through a whole book and not just stop in the middle and never start reading it again. And people that are easly entertained by things.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book is really good because it shows no matter what anyone says you can make somthing of yourslef.this book just says you can do anything and that is why i like it so much.
Guest More than 1 year ago

Karen Cushman writes a novel based on the Middle Ages and how The Midwife¿s Apprentice must find her place in the world.

She is found in the dung pile outside of town, the others shun her, but the midwife sees a slight intelligence. Naming her Dung Beetle the midwife takes her in as free labor giving her meager food and bed. Beetle finds herself in hard situations throughout the book; this includes leaning special medicines from the midwife to the actual conception of children. Later Beetle discovers her beauty and names herself Alyce; this improvement set the midwife off into harsh remarks about Alyce. She runs to get away from the pain and suffering.

Alyce finds a new life at an inn. No one knows her, so she has no fear of being branded as a failure by others. Then a woman comes to the inn; she is suffering from great stomach pains. The doctor said it was just her bowls but Alyce, from knowledge taught by the midwife, knows that a baby is coming. She succeeds in brining a child into the world. This sets Alyce¿s mind back to the past, should she go back, and not give up, to be a midwife? This is a story of finding true self and having no fear of something new. Every person who reads this book will have a new aspect of what they can do through their willpower and God¿s hand.

Guest More than 1 year ago
All I can say about Karen Cushman is that when it comes to writing about the happenings and times of the Medieval period, her writing is simply appalling to me. I am intrigued by books that tell of the Middle Ages, they simply facinate me. And this book practically pulled me in, enveloped me into this time period. When it comes to writing about such a time, Cushman is simply remarkable and I can't put into words how much I enjoy her books!
Guest More than 1 year ago
It was a great book I highly recommend it!!!! I loved the book!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
the midwifes apprentice is a very interesting book. i dont recomend it for people who like action or fast going books. if you are goin to do it for a school prject the you shouldnt use it because it has no dates in it and all i no is that it took place in the middle ages.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Midwife's Apprentice is an outstanding story. It's so well written that it's almost like I know the characters as friends. When I finshed the book it was almost like losing a best friend. Karen Cushman is one of my favorite authors, and writes the most outstanding books.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was the best book young reader book i have ever read.....normally i stay away from that section...brcause it is all unrealistic and too mushy gushy teenage love for my taste.....this was nothing like that at all!!! I recommend this for every age group!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think the this book is a very good book.It is about an orphan girl that doe not have a name, parents, or somewhere to live and sleep.The only names she has is brat, beetle and alyce.On cold days she sleeps in the dung heap. One day she is waked up by a midwife named Jane Sharp, who keeps beetle a the midwife's Apprentice. One day she fails at a task so she runs away. Then she survives out side.At the end of the book she decides to be a Midwife. I think that the book was organized and written wonderfully.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This Book is fun, adventures, and...Great!!!
lhanes on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A mean spirited midwife in the 14th century finds an orphan girl sleeping upon her dung pile. The midwife offers the young woman a job and she accepts a position as the midwife's apprentice. She never really teachers her but Alyce observes and absorbs all the she sees and hears.Personal Reaction:It was a great story of a homeless girl making something of herself and of her future.In my classroom this would be a great advocacy assignment. We could read it as a class and discuss possibilities for Alyce and the things that she encountered and how we might have helped her. We could also use this as a current events issue and talk of the statistics of homelessness that is rampid in our country.
marsap on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A Newberry Award winner, this book tells the tale of Alyce (Dung) with no name, no home, and no family. Curled in a dung heap, the village midwife finds her there and takes her in as a helper and an apprentice. Alyce begins to learn skills of midwifery, begins to make friends and finds her self worth. However, one day, when Alyce is summoned to deliver a baby, she fails and runs away, believing she is too stupid to become a midwife. Alyce must then learn to value herself again. A 4 out of 5 stars.
sgerbic on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Reviewed Oct 1998 Another winner for Karen Cushman. I read this book in 90 minutes and cried though most of it. A young girl with no history or name is found by a cruel hard midwife. The girl who was known as Brat later changes her name to Alyce. She learns the tools of the trade, but finds knowledge to be of little use but practice and patience to be more valuable. She fails with one birth and runs away to work in an Inn. She meets several new people and also to read, later she fins she must make a choice. A young girl who was wanted by no one now is needed by many. 36-1998