By Karen Cushman
(Clarion Books, Hardcover, 9780395881569, 176pp.)
Publication Date: October 2000
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In her long-awaited new novel, Newbery medalist Karen Cushman assembles a cast of unforgettable characters in a fascinating and pungent setting: the medical quarter of a medieval English village. To Blood and Bone Alley, home of leech, barber-surgeon, and apothecary, comes Matilda, raised by a priest to be pious and learned, and now destined to assist Red Peg the Bonesetter. To Matilda’s dismay, her work will not involve Latin or writing, but lighting the fire, going to market, mixing plasters and poultices, and helping Peg treat patients. Matilda is appalled by the worldliness of her new surroundings and yearns for the days at the manor when all she did was study and pray. Lonely and misunderstood, she seems destined for a fate as tragic as that of any of the sharp-tongued saints she turns to for advice.
Filled with the witty dialogue and richly authentic detail that Karen Cushman’s work is known for, Matilda Bone is a compelling comic novel about a girl who learns to see herself and others clearly, to laugh, and to live contentedly in this world. Author’s note.
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 and, most recently, RODZINA.
"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." School Library Journal, Starred
The "fascinating information [in the afterword] is just as interesting as Matilda's tale." Horn Book
Editor's Pick. Highly Recommended. "It has become my favorite Cushman book." Book Report
"The plight of thirteen-year-old Matilda will capture readers' imaginations and hearts." VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates)
"Reader's who've appreciated Cushman's medieval visions will want to travel back with her again here." The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books