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The Midwife's Apprentice

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  36,013 ratings  ·  1,670 reviews
From the author of Catherine, Called Birdy comes another spellbinding novel set in medieval England. The 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 sharp-tempered Jane deliver babies, Brat--who renames herself Alyce--gains knowledge, confidence, and the courage to want somethin ...more
Paperback, 128 pages
Published August 16th 1996 by HarperTrophy (first published January 1st 1995)
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Ticoread read it, pick the book up and read it!
Adeline 128 pages as shown above by the summary, that's where you can find page numbers in the future.

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Andrea Cox
I thought this children's book looked interesting, but it turned out to be crude, abrasive, and creepy. I was especially disappointed in the content, which seemed much too advanced for its intended audience.

This book was found in my library's children's section, which is specifically meant for children under thirteen years of age.

Content: devils and demons, witches, evil, transgenderism, marital affair, a couple of teenagers caught having sex, magic, superstition, child abuse, verbal abuse, prof
Aug 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: newbery, middle-grade
I read Catherine Called Birdy, a Newbery Honor Book, about ten years ago, and while it was interesting it wasn’t quite captivating enough for me to want to read anything else by Karen Cushman. Still, when The Midwife’s Apprentice showed up on Paperback Swap, I figured I’d give it a try.

A Newbery Medal book, The Midwife’s Apprentice tells the story of a girl with no home, no parents, and no name. One frosty night, she find warmth sleeping in a dung heap. The next morning, Jane Sharp, the village
Jul 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
I really liked Karen Cushman's books as a kid, and I think one of the big reasons for this (aside from the fact that, although two of her books take place in the Middle Ages, neither protagonist is a princess! *gasp*), is that she never sugar-coats the history. Take The Midwife's Apprentice, which is about a homeless, nameless orphan girl who gets a job as...guess. No, go on, guess.
Delivering babies in the Middle Ages was not only life-threatening and painful, it was gross. I remember reading th
Aug 07, 2007 rated it it was amazing
The midwife finds Brat asleep in a dung heap. She says she will work for food, so the midwife takes her on, having her do the housekeeping and herb-gathering and renames Brat, Beetle. Beetle is not allowed to assist when the midwife delivers a baby, but she watches from the windows and learns the midwife’s skills.

One day, she gets to go to the fair to buy things for the midwife. There, she decides that she needs a real name, a proper name, and starts calling herself Alyce. One day, in the middle
Connie  Kuntz
Jul 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
There will always be a part of me that wishes I was a midwife, so I totally loved this book. The kids did, too, although I am not sure any one of them aspires to midwifery.

The midwife herself is a bully, but Karen Cushman provided just enough detail about her so that the kids and I could not completely despise her. For example, the midwife herself gave birth numerous times, but her babies all died. The midwife also, in spite of being coarse and arrogant, is wise, and she mentions as-a-matter-of-
Oct 17, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: anyone interested in early birthing practices
Shelves: historical
A lot of historical research must have gone into this book, very well done. I'm amazed at both how much and how little people of this era new about pregnancy and childbirth.
While the cover of this book seems to be geared toward children, I would NOT hand this over to a child who does not already know about childbirth and pregnancy in detail. Even then, it would be wise to go over the book when they're done so they don't end up with bizarre and inaccurate ideas about having babies. Cushman is a
Oct 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing
There are few books that I come across, pick up, and just check out of the library on mere whim. There are even fewer books that I start over the minute I finish them.
The Midwife's Apprentice is one of these precious few.
It has no plot twits, mysteries, sexy vampires, gothic mansions, or pomp or circumstance. Its just a simple coming of age story about one of the sweetest, quietest, and purest characters to ever touch your soul.
Its a short simple story, but its simplicity makes it so strong an
Linda Lpp
Jan 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Saw this book listed on the audio list for the public library. Not necessarily a child's book, but closer to a young teen. Or for an old lady like me!
Enjoying it as MY cat is curled up beside me. Interesting perspective of a homeless, poor girl who has never known her roots. She usually goes hungry. Sleeps burrowed into the warmth of a dung heap (if lucky to find one). At this point in the story (Chapter 7) her struggles are continuing, but she has been given some hope-chores for the mid-wife in
Bobby Simic
Jul 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kidsstuff, historical
Orphaned since as long as she can remember, Beetle becomes employed by the cold village midwife. And while her payment is meager, Beetle eventually gains confidence in herself and her abilities through her work.
While it uses the language of the time, the book is surprisingly accessible -- no doubt helped by its short length (my edition was barely over 100 pages). Despite being from a different era, Beetle's plight still can be relatable; she's someone who has believed all the n
Minh Nhân Nguyễn
3 sao

Ban dich tiêng viêt kha cưng va gương. Nội dung truyên co phân nhay cam, công nhận không ngờ có sách thiếu nhi viết về nghề bà mụ luôn :p. Không biêt la từ truyên gôc hay do ban dich ma minh thây nhân vât chinh kha la ngu đân, tinh cach cung không hay cho lăm. Thông điêp của truyện thì khá rõ, đơn giản, dễ hiểu nhưng mình sẽ hơi ngần ngại để giới thiệu cuốn này cho một đứa con nít đọc. Lùng mua cuốn này vì nó đoạt giải newbery mà rốt cuộc lại thấy thất vọng, nó kém hơn nhiều so với những cu
Oct 29, 2015 rated it liked it
I would have given this book a 3.5 star rating if there was one. I felt this had a slow plot to it, but I found that I liked it more as I read on. However, just when I really started to like it, it ended. The ending was not bad, but it definitely just left you there like, "What." Since it was only 117 pages or so, I think this is why. Otherwise it was not bad.
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Jul 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: newbery
The story opens with a young girl with no name, no family, burying herself in a dung heap for warmth. The girl is taken in by a midwife, Jane, who dubs her Beetle for her choice of sleeping quarters. Jane’s decision to take Beetle in is not due to benevolence, however, but greed; Jane sees that Beetle is a hard worker who will lighten her load. Jane gives Beetle all the difficult work of her profession, but she is careful to keep Beetle away from observing Jane during delivery, fearing Beetle wi ...more
Suzanne Moore
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Madison H.
This was a great, quick historical read. It was packed with so much information and details. It was very real and gritty, it wasn't the glamorous side of the middle ages that we usually read about, the stories about the kings and queens and the princesses and princes. This was about the peasants and their lives.

The characters were good. Alys grows a lot through out the book. I love how her name changes with each stage of her life. I thought that was a really nice touch. Though the book doesn't f
Jun 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012, yaf, zines
I picked this up because I was fascinated to read about how midwifery was handled for a juvenile audience. You know how people freak out about kids knowing where babies come from? It was interesting from that perspective, but I ended up really enjoying the book. The protagonist is a homeless, nameless ragamuffin who gets taken in by a village midwife and learns a bit about the work of bringing babies into the world. The confidence that comes from having a place in the world starts to change the ...more
This is a realistic medieval fiction for young readers 12+ and a well-deserved Newberry Medal winner.

This tale follows the trials and tribulations of a young girl (Beetle, named because as homeless she uses the dung for heat.) in early medieval times. She finds herself apprenticed to the local midwife, knowledge and wisdom alone, and finds her place in the world.

Cushman has researched the subject well. We learn about village life, medicine, feudal structure, and the place of women in that socie
Sep 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Excellent historical fiction for preteens! Cushman portrays the life of a homeless orphan in medieval England -- a girl so bereft of all background that she doesn't even have a name -- and how she slowly carves out an identity for herself by keeping her eyes and ears open, and by working hard at challenging assignments.
Mar 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The book is alright to read. So the book is about a girl that is a midwife apprentice and she doesn’t know her name and she tries to figure it out with a loveable cat she meets. The best part of the book so far is when she figures out her name. I would say that it’s for 12 and up for the age.
lucy  black
Jul 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
This short fairy tale like story is just the right mix of bitter and sweet. I read it slowly because it is a short book and I didn't want it to end.
Aj Sterkel
The Newbery committees seem to have a deep love for books set in Medieval Europe. Maybe because you can disguise education as sword fighting? I don’t know. There seems to be a lot of Medieval Europe Newbery winners.

The Good: The Midwife’s Apprentice is skillfully written. The author avoids educational info dumps while seamlessly blending facts with an entertaining story. I learned a few things about the superstitions of Medieval midwives. The main character is an orphan who has been abused for
Jan 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Basic Plot: A homeless girl in medieval England finds her place in the world and her purpose.

The situation of the poor girl at the beginning of the book about tore my heart out. Homeless children are a particularly hard thing for a parent to bear. This story was simple, but the meaning of it is what is really important. Alyce (the name she chooses for herself, as she had none at the beginning) really has nothing, not even pride, at the beginning of the story. She is abused by everyone around her
Blake Medford
Dec 11, 2012 rated it liked it
I think that The Midwife’s Apprentice would be a book that would be difficult to teach in a middle grades setting. The book covers how children are born and has some rather crude scenes. That being said I think to teach the book would depend on the area. An area that I wouldn’t touch this book would be here in Georgia. In the middle of the Bible belt does not seem like the place to study a book that involves a woman yelling into another women’s vagina at a baby to come out. Considering how most ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 10, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: historical
This is more of a 3,5 because the ending changed my mind. The story itself is very realistic and somewhat still predictable except for the ending.

Jane, the midwife, finds a little girl in a pile of fecal matter. The girl has no family, no friends and she doesn't know her own name. She convinces Jane to let her stay in exchange for her labor. She also befriends a cat. Beetle, this is how the villagers call her, is hard-working and very grateful for all she has. Although the villagers treat her p
Jul 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: newbery
How do you know when a piece of historical fiction is written really, really well? When the thought of living during that time makes you run for the shower! Karen Cushman has a gift for portraying time periods accurately, and the setting for The Midwife's Apprentice is no exception. Beetle, our protagonist, is first described as sleeping in a dung pile, but is soon discovered by Jane, the curmudgeonly midwife who sets her to work as her apprentice. As Beetle becomes more knowlegeable about her t ...more
Beautifully told historical fiction for Middle School students. Set in Medieval England, it tells the story of a young girl searching for identity. The story highlights how identity is shaped both by our own understanding of self and the outer world's perception of what we are, how it shifts and grows along with our experiences. The main character's name is a wonderful symbol for this development. First, the young orphan is only known as Brat, later she is called Beetle. In the end, she gives he ...more
Jul 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Wow, this book was amazing. I wasn't sure what to expect since it wasn't written for adults (I thought), but the vibrant writing and descriptions made it awesome. Also, the author pulled no punches in terms of making the apprentice's experiences glossy and neat - no they were real and sometimes a little scary. I would love to read another book by this author. I especially enjoyed the extra bit at the end where Cushman discusses the herbs used in medieval midwifery and how they were sometimes eff ...more
May 31, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great little book about a girl who literally comes from a dung heap and finds her place in the world as a midwife's apprentice. This one is now on the summer book shelf for my 10 year old daughter. Other reviews have stated that it has graphic birth imagery that makes it unsuitable for younger readers. I can only imagine those comments came from people who have never actually witnessed birth of any kind. My daughter has been exposed to more graphic images in her real life while watching a robin' ...more
Anne Osterlund
Aug 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Beetle is a young girl who has nothing. Except the smarts to hide in a dung pile in order to stay warm. And the wherewithal to accept whatever chores, abuse, and food are thrown her way by the village midwife.

But then Beetle begins to learn.

About Cat. Whom she rescues from a rather ill fate.
And Will. Whom she rescues from the same fate.
And soap.

Ah, the world is full of miracles. Even for a midwife’s apprentice.

A quick feeling story about a girl with everything stacked against her. I zipped throu
Jun 02, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: newbery-medal
If there was ever a book that served as the picture in Webster's Dictionary alongside "Newbery Medal", this is it. Well, yes, there are lots more Newbery books that are supremely superior to this one, but all my favorites don't tend to be typical Newbery fodder. This one is (probably not a top 10 favorite, probably in the mid to upper 20s), and I'm not saying that's a bad thing. The writing was simple yet adequate, the quiet transformation wasn't too drastic and implausible, and the details on M ...more
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Karen Cushman was born in Chicago, Illinois.

She entered Stanford University on a scholarship in 1959 and graduated with degrees in Greek and English. She later earned master’s degrees in human behavior and museum studies.

For eleven years she was an adjunct professor in the Museum Studies Department at John F. Kennedy University before resigning in 1996 to write full-time.

She lives on Vashon Isla
“Just because you don't know everything don't mean you know nothing.” 40 likes
“. . . she dreamed of nothing, for she hoped for nothing and expected nothing. It was as cold and dark inside her as out in the frosty night.” 13 likes
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