Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Midwife's Apprentice by Karen Cushman

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 something from life: "A full belly, a contented heart, and a place in this world." 

Medieval village life makes a lively backdrop for the funny, poignant story of how Alyce gets what she wants. 

Hardcover, 122 pages
Published March 27th 1995 by Clarion Books
source - personal library
Newbery Medal (1996)

As I continue with my quest to read the John Newbery Medal winners this review takes me to the 1996 winner.  I had the honor of meeting and chatting with Karen Cushman in Denver last weekend.  To be perfectly honest I searched this book out and read it just because she was going to be one of the hosts at HNS2015 (Historical Novel Society Conference) and am very thankful that I did that.

The Midwife's Apprentice is a wonderful coming of age story, taking place in the 1300's I think it's a perfect addition to the HF genre for middle grade/young adult readers.  Written with a prose that was addicting it was an authentic reflection of the time period.  One can't help feeling for this young girl left to her own devices.  Taken in by Jane the midwife it was wonderful to see the progression of Brat/Alyce, it wasn't an easy road, there was lots she had to learn about herself, which made for an interesting story. 

Karen Cushman has a wonderful writing style, there is wit when needed as well as emotion.  I highly recommend this book to those who want to introduce young readers to this genre.

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