In Karen Cushman's historical novel The Midwife's Apprentice, a young girl in bleak circumstances finds a home and trade with the village midwife. Homeless and lacking even a name, the girl has been used to sleeping in the dirt. The sharp-tongued midwife, Jane Sharp, nicknames her Beetle, but the child will one day find a name for herself. Now called Alyce, she gains some rudimentary knowledge of midwifery, developing calves, and one day helping the bailiff's wife with a complicated birth, as the midwife is called away to help a noblewoman with her delivery. Asked to deliver the baby of the bailiff's sister, Alyce nearly botches the complicated delivery, becomes frightened, and runs away. She procures a job at an inn, where she is taught to read. By chance, she overhears her former employer speaking scathingly of apprentices who run away, and Alice becomes determined to get back into the midwife's good graces by finally learning the trade. With vivid depictions of medieval life, Cushman’s novel recreates a distant era for students Grades 5 and up, while her feisty, saucy female characters will make a distinct and ever lasting impression on readers.