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Matilda Bone Hardcover – October 16, 2000

4.5 out of 5 stars 70 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Fans of Cushman's previous medieval novels (Catherine, Called Birdy; The Midwife's Apprentice) may be disappointed with this historical adventure set in "Blood and Bone Alley" in the town of Chipping Bagthorpe. Unlike Catherine and Brat, heroines whose combination of rebelliousness and resourcefulness made them instantly likeable, 13-year-old Matilda is less winning than her supporting cast. The daughter of a wealthy lord's clerk and a mother who fled soon after her birth, Matilda finds herself orphaned when her father dies. As the novel opens, her self-appointed guardian, Father Leufredus, has just dropped her off at the meager lodgings of Red Peg the Bonesetter to learn Peg's trade. Fresh from the intolerant Father's tutelage, Matilda, in her zealous piety, snubs Peg and inadvertently thwarts the woman's work: more than once, while lost in prayer, the girl ruins a salve or a simple meal of porridge. Thus readers don't get the same insider's view of the bonesetter's apprenticeship that they saw of midwifery through Brat's eyes. The promise of a potential villain, Master Theobold, "the leading physick" who prizes money over healing, is never realized; the development of Matilda's friendship with another girl takes place mostly offstage; and, strangely, there are two denouements, in which Matilda makes the same realization that she has been wrong about Peg (one involving an ailing stranger whom she is treating, the other the apothecary's apprentice). Fiery Peg, her witty husband and her circle of friends will be the characters readers remember. Ages 10-14. (Oct.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 4-8-A fascinating glimpse into the colorful life and times of the 14th century. Orphaned Matilda, 13, has lived the good life in a manor where she was well educated by Father Leufredus. Things change drastically, however, when he abandons her, leaving her to serve as an assistant to a bonesetter in return for food and shelter. Matilda is expected to cook the meals, tend the fire, and generally assist Red Peg. And Peg has her hands full dealing with this self-righteous, pious child who snobbishly sprinkles Latin in her everyday speech and continuously brags about her ability to read and write. Peg, however, allows Matilda time to ponder her new role and teaches her, by example, that kindness and friendship go a long way toward lessening the harshness of life in this small English village. Matilda constantly prays for help, guidance, and deliverance. The saints, and this child knows many, respond with humor and sometimes sound advice. The theology espoused by Matilda is consistent with the time period and Father Leufredus has taught her well. She has no thoughts of her own-only the musing and learning of Father Leufredus. She stiffly withholds herself from all attempts at friendship and kindness, and she feels more and more alone. However, when she meets a kitchen maid who joyfully introduces her to the market square, her eyes slowly open to the world around her. Readers witness her spiritual and emotional growth as she blossoms from a self-centered "nincompoop" to a compassionate, competent assistant. Cushman's character descriptions are spare, with each word carefully chosen to paint wonderful pictures. This humorous, frank look at life in the medical quarters in medieval times shows readers that love and compassion, laughter and companionship, are indeed the best medicine.
Kit Vaughan, Midlothian Middle School, VA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Clarion Books (October 16, 2000)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 176 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0395881560
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0395881569
  • Reading age ‏ : ‎ 10 - 12 years
  • Lexile measure ‏ : ‎ 850L
  • Grade level ‏ : ‎ 5 - 7
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 14.4 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6 x 0.72 x 9 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.5 out of 5 stars 70 ratings

About the author

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Karen Cushman was born in Chicago, Illinois and lives now on Vashon Island west of Seattle, Washington. She received an M.A. in human behavior and one in museum studies. Ms. Cushman has had a lifelong interest in history. She says, "I grew tired of hearing about kings, princes, generals, presidents. I wanted to know what ordinary life was like for ordinary young people in other times." Research into medieval English history and culture led to the writing of her first two novels, the Newbery Honor book CATHERINE, CALLED BIRDY and the Newbery Medal-winner THE MIDWIFE'S APPRENTICE. She is also the author of MATILDA BONE, THE BALLAD OF LUCY WHIPPLE, RODZINA, and most recently ALCHEMY AND MEGGY SWANN.

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4.5 out of 5 stars
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70 global ratings

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