When you wake up homeless, penniless, nameless, cold, hungry and alone in a dung heap I guess it's safe to say there is no where to go but up. That's the situation in which the main character in The Midwife's Apprentice found herself. She eventually names herself Alyce and eventually makes her way in the world, but not before being discovered by the unpleasant village midwife who bestows on her the name Beetle (as in dung beetle), and eeks all the assistance out of her she can. On top of that Alyce is subjected to much belittling and bullying by all manner of villagers.
I really enjoyed two things about this book. One was the metamorphosis of Alyce from a weakling into a confident young woman. And the other was Karen Cushman's portrayal of medieval life. For an older child (heed my warning below) studying the middle ages this will provide interesting reading.
Awards: 1996 Newbery Award Winner
Warning: Contains references to adultery and an unmarried young couple's tryst.
Activity: Here's your chance to play Medieval Midwife. Can you match the herb to the correct labor symptom and pick the best pre-delivery position for the baby?