Matilda Bone

Matilda Bone

3.2 5
by Karen Cushman, Janet McTeer

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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, baarber-surgeon,
and apothecary, comes Matilda, raised by a priest to be pious and learned,
and now destined to assist Red Peg the Bonesetter.


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, baarber-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.
Appalled by her new surroundings, Matilda 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-toungued saints
she turns to for advice.

Filled with a witty dialogue, 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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Orphaned 13-year-old Matilda becomes apprenticed to Peg, a bonesetter in medieval times. "Matilda is less winning than her supporting cast. Fiery Peg, her witty husband and her circle of friends will be the characters readers remember," wrote PW. Ages 10-up. (Mar.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's 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 Cahners Business Information.|
Set in a 14th century English medical community, Matilda Bone is a Cushman's latest novel about a young woman finding her way in a harsh world. Matilda is left at Peg the Bonesetter's by Father Leufredus, the priest who has raised her. She is disgusted and horrified by the unholy attitudes and actions of the unlearned practitioners with whom she now lives. Determined to seek higher things, Matilda concentrates on the lives of the saints and both neglects her work and looks down on the warm, cheerful women who have taken her in. Matilda Bone is an interesting glimpse into a world seldom seen. The reader learns as much about the 14th Century medicine as notions of piety and the Catholic church—none of which fare too positively. This book, with its delightfully gory descriptions of "prescriptions," leeches, medical treatments and beliefs, would make a wonderful choice to read aloud to a class. Genre: Historical Fiction 2000, Clarion Books, 167p
No one has a better grasp of the flavor of the Middle Ages than Cushman, author of The Midwife's Apprentice (Clarion, 1995/VOYA August 1995). The sights, sounds, and smells of her fourteenth-century town of Chipping Bagthorpe creep into pores and hone senses. The plight of thirteen-year-old Matilda will capture readers' imaginations and hearts. An orphan, Matilda was raised and educated by Father Leufredus, who saturated her with lessons of piety, the saints, and the moral decay of society in general. She is dropped into the melee of town life bustling with energy, laughter, and pain, where devotion to one's friends leaves little time for devotion to the Church, and where her ability to read and write, while mildly commendable, are almost entirely useless. Here she is expected to learn the skills of a bonesetter, the trade of her new mistress, Red Peg. Matilda is miserable. She longs for her old life in which she spent her days studying as someone else tended the fire and cooked the meals. Peg not only expects her to do the marketing and the chores, but she also intends for Matilda to learn about setting bones. Slowly, Matilda begins to see that her former sheltered life was lacking the vitality and love that she now has all around her and comes to appreciate that she truly has found a home. Students studying the Middle Ages will find this novel a delightful way to learn about fourteenth-century English town life, and those who enjoy historical fiction will treasure the independent spirit of young Matilda Bone. VOYA CODES: 5Q 4P M J (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9).2000, Clarion, 167p, $15. Ages 12 to 15. Reviewer: Leslie Carter

SOURCE: VOYA, December 2000 (Vol. 23, No. 5)

Children's Literature
Poor Matilda. Her guardian has left her alone and afraid in Blood and Bone Alley, an unknown place where unknown things are happening faster than she can name the seven deadly sins. Fans of Catherine, Called Birdy and The Midwife's Apprentice will enjoy being back in Cushman's riveting medieval world. Matilda, with her exclamations of "saliva mucusque" (Latin for spit and slime) and her humorous appeals to several largely ineffectual saints, is colorful and candid, though perhaps, at first, overly reminiscent of Catherine. Matilda, however, does not think for herself. She's "priest-ridden," her every inclination controlled by Father Leufredus' strict teachings. Counseled to be meek, devout, and obedient, she finds herself ill prepared to be the apprentice of Red Peg, the Bonesetter. Isn't healing solely God's will, and laughter sinful? Surely her time would be better spent in prayer than bleeding and bandaging patients or keeping company with kitchen maids and goose girls. Although the pretentiously well-schooled Matilda is slow to discover that there's more to learning than memorizing scripture, readers will know immediately and root for her awakening. The author's afterword about medieval medicine further enhances the textual details that illuminate life in the Middle Ages. 2000, Clarion, $15.00. Ages 9 to 13. Reviewer: Betty Hicks
Orphaned thirteen-year-old Matilda has been raised by Father Leufredus "to seek higher things, like God and Heaven, saintliness and obedience." But when he deposits her in Blood and Bone Alley, the medical corner of an English village, to serve as an assistant to down-to-earth Red Peg the Bonesetter, Matilda finds her knowledge of the saints and of Latin and Greek to be of little help. It's a hard transition for the proud and pious girl as she learns to buy food at the market, tend the fire, cook the meals, mix plaster and tend patients, but gradually she comes to realize that there are other ways of looking at the world than that of Father Leufredus, and she makes friends and comes to have pride in her new skills. Cushman's latest novel returns to the fascinating medieval world of her Newbery Medal-winning book The Midwife's Apprentice. In fact, it's very similar to that novel in many ways, as young girls in each learn medical skills and new ways of life as they come of age in England of long ago. Spiced with humor and drama as well as carefully researched details of medieval life and medicine, this is a historical novel that should have wide appeal. KLIATT Codes: J*—Exceptional book, recommended for junior high school students. 2000, Houghton Mifflin/Clarion, 176p, $15.00. Ages 13 to 15. Reviewer: Paula Rohrlick; September 2000 (Vol. 34 No. 5)
School Library Journal
Gr 4-8-In this unabridged reading of Karen Cushman's novel (Clarion, 2000), actress Janet McTeer provides a splendid voice for Matilda, the medieval orphan girl who arrives as an apprentice to Peg the Bonesetter on Blood and Bone Alley. Matilda has been brought up by Fr. Leufredus in a manor house where her late father had been clerk, and she is horrified that she is now expected to perform such tasks as cleaning, shopping, and tending the fire. Matilda's pride at being able to read and write, and her initial disdain of Peg, Peg's husband Tom, Margery the physician, and the other humble denizens of the area is palpable. Matilda's Latin oaths ("Saliva mucusque!" or "spit and slime") and her mental conversations with the saints provide humor, and her growth in self-knowledge as well as her friendships with both young and old in her new community keep listeners sympathetic. The tape includes Cushman's afterward on medieval medicine, read by the author, which lends an air of authority and intimacy to the recording.-Sarah Flowers, Santa Clara County Library, Morgan Hill, CA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In a carefully researched novel set in the medieval period, the author of Daniels, Teri G-REX Illus. by Tracey Campbell Pearson Orchard (32 pp.) Sep. 2000 A little brother gets a chance to be as teasing and bullyish as his big brother in this bit of purposeless wish-fulfillment. Gregory's older brother Mark gets all the cool stuff—and he's not above grinding Gregory's face in it, literally. One evening at dinner, Gregory's clueless parents urge him to eat up to be as big as Mark. But Gregory wants to be bigger and, lo, as he tears into his steak he morphs into a monstrous G-Rex—a T-Rex of the Gregory persuasion. He starts to intimidate and threaten his family:"MORE MEAT!" He roars."Get more meat or I eat Mark!" So they frantically set about stuffing"G-Rex" with meat. When he is sated, he commences to bully Mark: over the TV; which beds will be slept in; who will shoot the basketball. When his family finally flees next door, G-Rex gets bored, has a little fit, and transforms back into Gregory. Even though he has broken Mark's best basketball trophy during his tantrum, the boys work out their anger and proceed to have a great time at basketball. If retribution isn't the answer, as seems to be suggested here, then what does inspire the boys to suddenly become chummy, a situation that feels utterly unconvincing because there are no previous referents? The story isn't messy like life, it is just aimless, and Pearson's artwork is too frail a scaffolding to give this shapeless narrative any structure. (Picture book. 5-8)

From the Publisher

"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

Product Details

Listening Library, Inc.
Publication date:
Edition description:
Unabridged, 3 Cassettes
Product dimensions:
4.57(w) x 7.00(h) x 1.13(d)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Meet the Author

Karen Cushman has had a lifelong interest in history and "wanted to know what ordinary life was like for ordinary young people in other times." Her research led to the writing of Catherine, Called Birdy, a Newbery Honor book, and The Midwife's Apprentice, a Newbery Medal winner. She lives on Vashon Island, Washington.

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Matilda Bone 3.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It was a great story!It was abit mean that Father Lufradeus'i think thats how you spell it'didn't come back for her.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Matilda Bone is a religious young woman that has been delievered to Blood and Bone Alley. She is not fitting in well in her new surroundings, being much different than her former life. She has lived with Father Leufradeus and has learned many skills. When she is delievered to Peg, the bone setter she is surprised when she is ordered to accomplish tasks such as cleaning and cooking. Even though Matilda despises Peg she is all the while learning to listen to her heart and make her own decisions.With Father Leufreduas she learns to read and write and she can repeat bible verses like it's the back of her hand.When she first arrives in Blood and Bone Alley she believes that because the people weren't as smart and didn't believe the things she did that they were sins from God. Peg had told Matilda about her husband Tom, who she said was wise. When Tom came home from traveling, Matilda was dissapointed that he could not speak different languages or do the things she could. He was wise in other ways that she did not understand.Matilda later meets a servant girl and soon become friends but when her friend severely injures herself she understands that doctor Margery can care for her even though it means breaking her reputation with the doctor. Matilda neither liked nor needed this doctor, she willingly accepted the weatlthy physician though. Throughout the story you learn about the insecure Matilda and sense the magical feelings of her difficult life. Karen Cushman,the author of many medieval novels including The Midwife's Apprentice, has entertained readers with her sincere way of writing.Matilda learns so many life lessons in Blood and Bone Alley from many people within the busy town. She walks you through her interesting life as you sit back and enjoy the enchanted ride throught the distant medieval world.
Anonymous 11 months ago
This a mazing book, while to some might be hard to get through, is an amazing story of a young woman adapting to a world she has never known. Matilda has always lived in a manor where everthing was provided to her comfort as long as she kept up her religiouss studies. She has never known any other life. So when she is told to do the meanial tasks of a kitchen wench, of course there's a problem. She surrouned by "filthy, unholy people and cats!" What's a girl to do?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
1. The book contained 197 pages of boredom 2. There was no interesting plot or theme involved. 3. The characters were not interesting to read about. 4. The main character was a brat and had no morals in the beginning. 5. The setting was not very exciting. 6. Although the book was a breeze to read, it was not challenging at all. 7. Throughout the entire book, nothing really thrilled me. 8. The moral of the story had nothing to do with the book. 9. I would not recommend this book to my friends. 10. Overall, I wasted my time picking this book. The author wrote many other good books, but this one did not satisfy me. Thank you!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was so retarted it didnt even say the year i mean seriosly this author is retarted.