The Midwife's Apprentice

Karen Cushman, Author, Trina Schart Hyman, Illustrator
Karen Cushman, Author, Trina Schart Hyman, Illustrator Clarion Books $13 (128p) ISBN 978-0-395-69229-5
Reviewed on: 03/27/1995
Release date: 03/01/1995
Paperback - 128 pages - 978-0-06-440630-7
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-553-47798-6
Prebound-Sewn - 122 pages - 978-0-606-09612-6
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-299-89125-8
Compact Disc - 978-0-7393-3733-2
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-8072-8281-6
Prebound-Sewn - 122 pages - 978-0-606-24696-5
Open Ebook - 128 pages - 978-0-547-35000-4
Prebound-Glued - 144 pages - 978-0-613-00185-4
Prebound-Other - 978-0-606-22684-4
Prebound-Sewn - 978-0-7807-6215-2
Prebound-Sewn - 96 pages - 978-1-4177-4527-2
Paperback - 122 pages - 978-0-547-72217-7
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Having focused on a well-born young heroine in her Newbery Honor debut novel, Catherine, Called Birdy, Cushman returns to a similar medieval English setting, this time to imagine how the other half lived. The strengths of this new, relatively brief novel match those of its predecessor: Cushman has an almost unrivaled ability to build atmosphere, and her evocation of a medieval village, if not scholarly in its authenticity, is supremely colorful and pungent. The protagonist here first appears asleep in a heap of dung; the ``rotting and moiling'' of the refuse give forth heat enough to compensate for the stench. Homeless and nameless, she can remember no time when she did not wander from village to village. She is rescued from the dung heap by a sharp-tongued local midwife, who feeds her in exchange for work. Gradually the girl forges an identity for herself and learns some timeless truths. Some of the characterizations lack consistency (particularly that of the midwife), the plot depends on a few too many conveniences and the development of the themes seems hurried--but no matter. The force of the ambience produces more than enough momentum to propel the reader from start to finish in a single happy sitting. Ages 12-up. (Mar.)
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