Cover image for Matilda Bone
Matilda Bone
Cushman, Karen.
Personal Author:
[Large print edition].
Publication Information:
Thorndike, Me. : Thorndike Press, 2001.

Physical Description:
184 pages ; 23 cm
Fourteen-year-old Matilda, an apprentice bonesetter and practitioner of medicine in a village in medieval England, tries to reconcile the various aspects of her life, both spiritual and practical.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 5.7 5.0 43469.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Young Adult Fiction Large Print

On Order



In recent years, the Young Adult genre has both expanded and matured. Thorndike Press offers this series to make the best of the Young Adult genre available to young readers in Large Print.In Blood and Bone Alley, where she has come to serve Red Peg the Bonesetter, Matilda is alone in her belief that prayer and study are the only worthy pursuits. Here she must go to market, tend the fire, mix plasters and poultices, and help treat patients. Surrounded by people who laugh and joke and eat sausages, while she herself seeks higher things, Matilda feels alone and misunderstood. Matilda Bone is the compelling, comic story of a girl learning to live contentedly in this world.

Author Notes

Karen Cushman was born on October 4, 1941 and grew up in a working-class family in Chicago, but never put much thought into becoming a writer. Though she wrote poetry and plays as a child, Cushman didn't begin writing professionally for young adults until she was fifty. She holds an MA in both Human Behavior and Museum Studies.

Cushman has always been interested in history. It was this interest that led her to her research into medieval England and its culture, which led to both Catherine, Called Birdy, a Newbery Honor Book, and The Midwife's Apprentice, her second book and winner of the prestigious Newbery Award in 1996.

Both Catherine, Called Birdy and The Midwife's Apprentice have earned many awards and honors including the Gold Kite Award for Fiction from the Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, and was chosen as one of School Library Journal's Best Books of the Year. Cushman's work has also been recognized for excellence by Horn Book, Parenting Magazine, Hungry Mind Review, and the American Library Association.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 6^-8. Matilda Bone joins Alyce, the midwife's apprentice, and Catherine called Birdy as Cushman's latest heroine of the Middle Ages. But in this story, setting not character takes precedence. Matilda has lived her 14 years in a manor house where Father Leufredus has taught her Latin and encouraged her fear of going to hell. Now, with the priest off to London, Matilda finds herself in Blood and Bone Alley where, much to her dismay, she's been apprenticed to Peg the Bonesetter. It's a whole new world for Matilda, who spends her time mentally conversing with saints and thinking herself better than those around her, as she begins to learn about healing. Bloodlettings, bone settings, foul remedies, and scary surgeries abound throughout the book, and it's easy to lose track of Matilda's evolution. It's the illness and the healing (and the death) that's the focal point here, not pious, whiny Matilda, who takes an inordinately long time to learn that the dependable, hardworking people she comes in contact with are worth more than the fools and cheaters whose learning she admires. Readers will find much of interest here, but it probably won't be the evolution of Matilda. --Ilene Cooper

Publisher's Weekly Review

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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

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 (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.