I decided to continue reading quality, older books this month. The Midwife's Apprentice by Karen Cushman was published in 1995. It won the Newberry Medal in 1996. This book is fantastic! It's a feel-good, root-for-the-under-dog, historically unique tale.
The story is about a homeless girl with no name in medieval times. She is found in a dung heap by a midwife. The girl becomes the midwife's apprentice and is called Beetle, as in dung beetle. The midwife is greedy and unkind, but Beetle appreciates having a roof over her head and food in her belly. As Beetle gains confidence, she begins to watch the midwife in order to learn the trade. Beetle adopts a real name for herself, Alyce. When Alyce's midwife skills are put to the test, she fails and runs away. After many months, Alyce decides to go back to the midwife to become her apprentice again. In the process, she learns about courage and determination.
This book is interesting and a quick read. I highly recommend it to 5th or 6th graders.