Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Midwife's Apprentice

The Midwife's Apprentice The Midwife's Apprentice by Karen Cushman

Book 42 of 50 for the New Author Challenge
Book 7 of 25 for the MG Reading Challenge

Awards: SLJ Best Book; Young Reader's Choice Award/Nominee; American Bookseller Pick of the List; ALA Notable/Best Books; Booklist Editors' Choice; NCTE Notable Children's Books in the Language Arts; Horn Book Fanfare; Newbery Medal; Parent's Choice Award/Honor Book

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This book won the Newbery in 1996 and while it has been around for awhile, it has never really made it onto my radar until recently. I picked it up at the Scholastic Warehouse Sale a few months ago and thought it would make a nice quick read for the 24 Hour Read-a-Thon. But I started it late into the evening and I had a hard time getting into it. I thought it was because I was tired, but I finished it up later and still came away with mixed feelings.

This is a short story of homeless girl in medieval England who becomes a midwife's apprentice (obviously). She is found in a town sleeping in a dung heap, and so everyone calls her Beetle, short for Dung Beetle. She is taunted and teased by locals, and pretty much generally abused by the midwife who takes her in. Eventually, she leaves the town thinking that she will be better off elsewhere. But ultimately she learns to face her fears and become the person that she wants to be.

I have to say that I did like the author's use of language and beautiful word choice. But I just wanted more from the story. More depth, more plot, more answers. It was a just a little too simple for the type of tale being told, in my opinion. I think the coarseness of Beetle's treatment and the descriptions used at the birth scenes make this a book for children at least 12 and up. But, the style of the book seemed like it would work better for younger kids. It almost came off as trite. There was just a disconnect for me between the subject, content, and style. I honestly felt that if the book was twice as long, I would have liked it twice as much. And maybe that's just because I'm not the intended audience after all.

After reading some other reviews, I get the sense that this is either a book you love or a book that you don't. So please, check out some of these reviews:
Have I missed yours?

Source: Purchased


bermudaonion said...

I wonder if someone in the target audience would like it better than you did.

Charley said...

I have noticed this book on the shelf, but that cover just does not draw me in.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes books don't do the magic for some ppl and others love them to no end. Have had similar experiences many time. Your review was really honest . Thanks Tricia

Angela said...

I just gave you the One Lovely Blog Award


Stephanie said...

I enjoyed reading this with my daughter, years ago, but I see what you mean about the disconnect between the lightness of the novel and some of the content. By the way, I am a new follower.

Karenlibrarian said...

I agree about the disconnect also. I remember really liking this when I read it, but I do think it's a little graphic for the level of the writing. She should have cut some of the childbirth scenes or made it a little more adult.