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Matilda Bone

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  3,280 ratings  ·  246 reviews
Newbery medalist Karen Cushman assembles a cast of unforgettable characters in a fascinating and pungent setting: the medical quarter of a medieval English Village. To Blood and Bone Alley, home of leech, barber-surgeon, and apothecary, comes Matilda, raised by a priest to be pious and learned, and now destined to assist Red Peg the Bonesetter. To Matilda's dismay, her wor ...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published March 12th 2002 by Yearling (first published January 1st 2000)
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Anastasia I think it was a few decades before the renaissance started. So 1380, 1370?

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Average rating 3.74  · 
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 ·  3,280 ratings  ·  246 reviews

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Mar 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Matilda's dropped off in "Blood and Bone" Alley by this priest that has raised her since childhood. She's a snobby little bitch who thinks she knows everything. The bonesetter Red Peg and the rest of the health workers in the alley teach Matilda right.

I'm really torn as to whether this was better than "Catherine Called Birdy" or not. It's so different, it's incomparable. I loved both books so so so so so so much.

In "Matilda Bone," Karen Cushman tells a feminist story set in medieval times. She
Oct 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
I love this author! She always researches the books very well, and all her reads are a great learning experience. This one was one of her better ones. It's about a young orphan named Matilda who was brought up in a church setting, and was taught to be very religious, and strict in her thinking. Her life is a lot of rules, and no fun. She is dropped off to be an apprentice to a "bone setter" and has trouble adjusting, and fitting in with the people in the town, and the new way of life. There is g ...more
This was an interesting, well-researched novel for youth. I highly recommend it.
Giselle Bradley
Cushman is so incredible at bringing the reading back to the middle ages or whatever time period she's writing about. She makes the time periods, that almost feel like other worlds their beliefs and customs are so foreign, feel real and within reach. I also love that she doesn't forgo historical accurateness for the sake of making her stories or characters appeal to modern reader. A lot of the historical romance authors I read could really learn from this. I don't want a character in the early 1 ...more
May 24, 2011 rated it liked it
I liked this, though I found it fairly heavy-handed. Young Matilda has been raised by a priest to be humble but learned in Latin, to be obedient and not to question, to be a priggish pain in the tush, in other words. She's suddenly sent to live with Red Peg the Bonesetter, and oh, how Matilda hates this new life where Latin isn't important, and God is about love instead of punishment, and where the unschooled and the ignorant help people in distress. Heavy-handed, but sweet and well-researched a ...more
May 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
Written by Celine Tougas, aged 11.

This is a story about an orphan named Matilda in medieval England. She was raised by a priest in a manor but then was dropped off at Blood and Bone Alley to be apprenticed to Red Peg the bonesetter. At first she feels lonely and misunderstood because no one thinks that reading latin and knowing the names of saints is any use. She is also proud and difficult to get a long with. She meets a friend named Tildy. In the end Matilda learns to be more appreciative of t
May 08, 2018 rated it liked it
Listened to this in the car with the kids. It was perfect because we just happened to be studying this time in history for our homeschool. It had lots of interesting historical tidbits, and I think it was my eight year old's first experience with an unsympathetic/unlikeable main character. Luckily, Matilda becomes likeable by the end of the book, but her self-righteous attitude at the beginning really had my daughter up in arms.

We'll never forget "Saliva mucusque!"
Jun 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Medicine in the middle ages — definitely not like medical practice as we know it today. Here we met a believable cast of interesting characters.
Jun 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is my 3rd time reading this book. It's a great story about an orphaned girl (Matilda Bone), who since a young child has been raised by a priest in a monastery. She is taught to be obedient to his belief that God wants her to be meek, mild, quiet and obedient. Circumstances cause the priest to leave her with a woman named Peg who is a bonesetter. Matilda is dismayed because she will be the bonesetters's apprentice.

Matilda is dismayed by the disheveled home she will share with the bonesetter
Claire (Book Blog Bird)
May 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kids, historical
I found this in the chazza when I was scouting for books for the school library. I don’t even know what made me start reading it, but once I did I couldn’t put it down. It’s the story of a frankly annoying super religious girl who goes to work as an apprentice bone setter in mediaeval times. Really good.
Nancy Hollingsworth
Jan 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book gives a glimpse into medical practices, religion, and the hardships of long ago or today. The story is deep and delightful. Read. Read to your children. Introduce the book to your upper elementary students.
Mar 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
I liked this a lot!! It's about a 14-year-old but written at more of a 10 or 11-year-old level so I think it would be perfect for kids who are a little behind on reading level. It was a really interesting look at medieval medicine and the protagonist is great. ...more
Feb 23, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Karen Cushman is a wonderful writer. Wonderful. And this is one of her very best medieval novels. Fingers crossed she's writing a sequel! ...more
Nov 22, 2009 rated it really liked it
So I have 4 children in 3 different schools and consequently spend a lot of time in the car. Lately I have been listening to a lot of YA fiction to pass the taxi time. I figure with little ears in the back seat, I better keep things safe and select books on CD strictly from the young adult section. It turns out that all teen books these days are about cliques, mean girls, and vampires...blech! So I was thrilled to listen to this little gem by Karen Cushman.

If you aren't familiar with Cushman, s
Mar 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
I found Matilda Bone on a list of feminist novels for girls. Karen Cushman, whom I read and did not fully appreciate as an eight and nine year old, tells the charming and quaint story of Matilda, a girl who aspires to achieve saintly status via the influential teachings of a priest who imparts the importance of being "meek and obedient". When Matilda finds herself in a new place, where bodily presence is not disregarded or sinful, where women are wise and learned, where science is trusted, where ...more
May 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2011-reads
Cushman's effortless style belies her craft (both in terms of research and writing). This book is beautifully done, with likeable characters and lots of food for thought. A great feminist YA read! ...more
Hal Schrieve
Matilda, unlike most 13-year-old girls in medieval England, knows how to read. She was raised in a convent by a priest named Father Leufredus, who taught her about saints, demons, good, evil, and how to speak and read Latin. But when Father Leufredus is called away to London, he abandons Matilda at the home of a woman named Red Peg, who makes her living as a bonesetter (someone who mends broken bones). While Matilda wants to be useful as Peg’s assistant, she quickly becomes terrified by how bloo ...more
Dec 07, 2020 rated it it was ok
2.5 Lacked the depth of The Midwife's Apprentice or Catherine, Called Birdy, as though Karen Cushman sketched the story, inked it, laid down flat colors, but forgot to add any shading. None of the characters felt fully realized, except perhaps Peg. I like slice-of-life as much as the next person, but the complete lack of anything approaching a climax and the wholly unsatisfying ending didn't help.

This is one of those "kid raised to be prejudiced and snobby meets simple countryfolk, learns humili
Int'l librarian
Feb 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
In the author’s note, Cushman says she took most of the medieval medicine out of the story. That’s a surprise, given how much is still here.

It’s good stuff for the most part: pounded earthworm, hare’s foot salve, bull urine, the boiled rags of an Egyptian mummy. All cutting edge I’m sure for its day. Peg is a bonesetter and Matilda Bone is learning the trade as her apprentice. Their professional colleagues include Doctor Margery, Horanswith Leech, Nathaniel the Apothecary, Boggle and Slodge the
Hazel Pirie
Feb 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Matilda is an orphaned girl who is adopted by a priest, Father Lefredus at a very young age. The priest teaches her to value Christianity and god above else. He teaches her Latin and she studies religion all her life she prays constantly. One day father Lefredus tells Matilda that he must go to oxford for some important business and she unfortunately cannot come with him. He leaves her in a small town on blood and bone alley. She now must work as an apprentice for peg the bonesetter. Peg makes ...more
Jasmine John
Jan 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Book 9
Jasmine John
Matilda Bone
Mrs. Holt

Exposition: Matilda lived with father Luefrudus. They were very religious and they went to church every week. Father Luefrudus is a pastor. He had to go to London so he dropped her off at Old Red Peg to help her do some work. She is a bonesetter so she helps people to get better. She takes bones that are out of place and puts them back into place, she also cures the sick. Matilda helped her cook breakfast, lunch, and dinner. She also would start a fire in
Sep 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Matilda grew up in a manor house, where the only work expected of her was to assist Father Leufredus, the priest, in his studies. She knows Latin and some Greek, the names and stories of hundreds of saints, and how to be meek and obedient. None of this helps her much when Father Leufredus is called to London, and apprentices Matilda to a bone setter named Red Peg in a town halfway between London and Oxford. Peg is full of good humor and common sense, but all Matilda can see is how different she ...more
Dec 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s-books
I have enjoyed all of Karen Cushman's books. This book takes place in Medieval times. Matilda, age 14, has been raised in a castle by a pompous, dour, self-righteous priest who has taught her to look down on anyone who doesn't pray seven or eight times a day, who has cats (which are possessed of the devil), and who are poor and uneducated. He drops her off at Blood and Bones Alley to be a servant to a bonesetter. Slowly, Matilda changes from a self-centered, self-righteous girl to a loving and c ...more
Jan 13, 2021 rated it really liked it
A unique perspective on the journey of a female coming into herself. Set in medieval England, Matilda was raised in a lord's manor and taught by a father of the church. She is sent to a bonesetter as an unofficial apprentice and is very resistant to Peggy her new mistress, her husband Tom, and the other new people she meets. But as time passes, she learns the Bone setting trade and realizes that not everything her church father taught her is right. She becomes enlightened through the love of God ...more
Lauren Summers
Apr 28, 2021 rated it really liked it
This book was interesting enough to hold the attention of a 30-something taking a nostalgic tour of Karen Cushman's books. I had always loved Catherine Called Birdy and the Midwife's Apprentice, so I thought I would round out my reading of Cushman with Matilda Bone. I did find the story to be similar to the point of derivative of the Midwife's Apprentice, as if Cushman hadn't finished saying what she wanted to yet about the topic of medieval medicine from a feminine perspective. Still, a sentime ...more
Mar 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Matilda has lived a sheltered life since she was orphaned and left to the care of a priest. When the priest must move on to London he sets Matilda up with Peg the Bonesetter. Here,at the age of 14, she learns what life with people instead of priests and saints, can offer. She sees that life can be messy, but also that caring for others and actually making friends is important. She even begins thinking for herself. This historical fiction novel was set at a time when medicine was just at its infa ...more
May 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I've always loved and admired how Karen Cushman creates such strong female characters, but this book especially resonated with me. Faith is a wondrous thing, but without questioning it can be a dangerous weapon. The evolution of this character from blind faith to the understanding that science and faith are not necessarily separate entities was incredibly well done. Matilda Bone had every opportunity to wallow in misery, but she bravely strode forward with curiosity. That I could be half the per ...more
Samantha Fondriest
3.75 - This book has haunted me for 20+ years! I vividly remember DNF-ing this as a kid, which is unusual because I never DNF’d anything and I liked other books by this author. I finally decided to just read it - and it was pretty good! Overall a great pick for kids who like medieval historical fiction. I’ve never been the biggest fan of the grimy, city-living of this time period (I get so grossed out by how unclean it all is!) but I enjoyed watching Matilda learn to think for herself and adjust ...more
Jan 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Such a sweet and gentle book. My biggest complaint is that I wanted it to be 5 times longer! Though I think the length is probably perfect for most younger readers. I enjoy stories that are character-driven rather than plot-driven and this story gives us plenty of insight into Matilda’s thoughts and motivations. I loved her conversations with the saints! Witty and so insightful. I loved learning more about healthcare in the Middle Ages and the struggle that people had to make sense of their worl ...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

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