The Midwife's Apprentice

I read Catherine, Called Birdy when I was a freshman in high school and very much enjoyed it, so this was a natural choice to look at now. I found the story of The Midwife’s Apprentice to be more melancholy than that of Catherine but still good.

Brat’s journey and her many names of Brat, Beetle, and finally Alice show her development over time from homeless urchin to a girl who knows what she wants and will do anything to be the Midwife’s Apprentice.

Perhaps one small quibble I have is that this book does not seem to acknowledge the high infant mortality of the middle ages, but otherwise it seems an accurate enough representation. It also has a somewhat repetitive, lyrical style with description which would be good for younger children (perhaps slightly younger than the ones who read Catherine). This book also shows a very different (and more prevalent) side of Medieval society than the literate Catherine since it shows the peasants who can neither read nor write. No diary for Brat but rather a dream of wanting to read. This book won the Newbery Medal for 1996. Although I think I might have liked Catherine’s story better merely because it made me smile more, I can still see where this story with its gritty look at a difficult life in the middle-ages could be very meaningful to child and adult alike.