The Midwife's Apprentice
by Karen Cushman
Reading and Discussion Questions
Midwife's Apprentice Vocabulary
Midwife's Apprentice Jeopardy

Chapters 1-4
  1. Sleeping in the dung heap, Brat dreamed of "snug cottages, and warm bread, and mothers who hugged their babies."  a) True  b) False
  2. Why would Beetle be a target for the "scrawniest, ugliest, dirtiest, stupidest" boys in the village?  (Quote a line from the book.)
  3. Where did the "kick of a boot in Brat's belly" come from?
  4. The midwife took Brat in because she felt sorry for her.  a) True  b) False
  5. What made the midwife decide to take Beetle home? (Quote a line from the book.)
  6. The villagers don't like the midwife because she isn't very good at her job.  a) True  b) False
  7. Why do the villagers dislike Jane the Midwife?
  8. Why do you think Beetle saved the cat?(Don't say she felt sorry for it.)
  9. Why do the villagers taunt and tease and abuse Beetle?  a) Because she's stupid.  b) Because of the way she talks.  c) Because they are angry at the midwife.  d) Because they don't like beggars, like she used to be.  e) It's just random.
  10. What event prompted Beetle to start watching through the windows and learning from Jane?  a) When Jane let her help in an emergency.  b) When the pregnant woman was giving birth in the field.  c) Nothing in particular; she just got too curious.  d) When Beetle begged and pleaded to be allowed to watch.  e) None of the above.
  11. Why does Jane leave Beetle outside when she delivers babies?
  12. Beetle learned that midwifery was more about ______ and _____, than about magic and potions.  a) strong hands and clean fingernails  b) hard work and good sense  c) slapping and shouting  d) herbs and tonics  e) none of the above
  13. So far, all the insults in the book insult your...  a) looks  b) size  c) intelligence  d) smell  e) speech
  14. Beetle was excited at the idea of her first delivery.  a) True  b) False
  15. What did Beetle do first to try to help the miller's wife? a) give her tea  b) give her ale  c) talk gently to her  d) nothing  e) none of the above
  16. Jane kicks Beetle out of the cottage for a while after her performance with the miller's wife.  a) True  b) False
Chapters 5, 6, and 7
  1. Before going to the St. Swithin's Day Fair in the midwife's place, Beetle had never been to a fair before.  a) True  b) False
  2. What is a soothsayer?  a) a merchant  b) an old form of a counselor  c) a musical instrument  d) a fortune teller  e) none of the above
  3. Why does the merchant give Beetle the comb? a) He feels sorry for her.  b) He thinks she's kind of cute.  c) She looks like she needs a comb.  d) All of the above.  e) None of the above.
  4. Alyce prefers to be outside, rather than inside.  a) True  b) False
  5. Why does Alyce save Will? a) She's scared she might go to Hell if she doesn't.  b) She's scared she'll be the one the village blames for his death.  c) She doesn't want to help send Will to Hell.  d) She says she doesn't know. e) None of the above.
  6. By "pluck" (p39) Will means...a) savvy.  b) courage.  c) cleverness.  d) all of the above.  e) none of the above.
  7. Which of the following is the only example of someone in the village who is nice to Alyce?  a) Will  b) the miller's wife  c) Grommet Smith  d) the baker's wife  e) None of the above. (Someone else.)
  8. What's wag? ("...Aww this wag grows boresome..." -p41) a) What a dog's tail does.  b) A shake of the head.  c) Teasing.  d) Drunkenness.  e) none of the above
  9. The reason Alyce is the one out after dark is that she knows all the secret ways around the village.  a) true  b) False
  10. Why were all the people who were caught shown mercy, and not punished as severely as they normally would be? a) Their "crimes" weren't that serious.  b) They were needed by the village.  c) The Devil made them do it.  d) They were all well-liked by the villagers.  e) none of the above
  11. How does Ms. Cushman foreshadow that Alyce will be revealed as the "Devil"?
  12. (3) Give three examples that show that Beetle is not as stupid as Jane the Midwife would like to believe.
Chapters 8-11
  1. Why does Jane the Midwife not notice that Alyce is gaining skills and respect in the village? a) Because she hates Alyce.  b) Because she isn't, really.  c) Because Jane is too self-centered.  d) Because Alyce doesn't tell her.  e) None of the above.
  2. Why does Alyce deliver the bailiff's wife's baby, instead of the midwife?  a) The bailiff's wife asked for her.  b) She would do it for free.  c) The midwife's ankle was still broken.  d) It was part of her training for helping the midwife.  e) None of the above.
  3. What prompted Alyce's first smile? a) Delivering Alyce Little.  b) The compliment from the merchant.  c) The compliment from the bailiff. d) Helping Will deliver Tansy's calves. e) None of the above.
  4. After she proved herself by delivering Alyce Little, the midwife started to let Alyce watch and learn, and finally be a real apprentice. a) True  b) False
  5. Why do the boys say they are chasing Runt?  a) He stole something.  b) He's annoying.  c) Because they can't tease Alyce any more.  d) Because he's a beggar.  e) None of the above.
  6. How does Runt help us figure out when this story takes place? (between 1272 and 1307) a) He tells us.  b) By how old he is.  c) By asking what the king's name is.  d) By the town that he comes from.  e) None of the above.
  7. What turns out to be the reason Emma Blunt's baby wasn't coming out? a) Alyce wasn't using the right herbs and potions.  b) The baby was in the wrong position.  c) Alyce didn't shake her hard enough.  d) The baby just didn't want to come out. e) None of the above.

  8. The real reason Alyce leaves is that she...  a) doesn't like delivering babies.  b) can't express what she's feeling.  c) can't help the midwife any more. d) can't take the midwife's treatment of her any more. e) can't take the insults she knows she's going to get.
Chapters 12-end
  • What is special about Magister Reese?
  • Why does he teach Purr to read, instead of teaching Alyce?
  • What does the midwife tell Magister Reese about Alyce?
  • (2) Why is "giving up" different than "failing"?  Which is worse?
  • (2) Why does Alyce travel to the manor?  What is her mission?
  • (3) Who is the only person who helps Alyce when she arrives at the manor?

  •      -Why does this person help Alyce?  Who does she think Alyce is?
  • (3) How does Alyce get her hands clean?  Why is this unusual?  Describe her first bath.
  • (2) Was Alyce's trip to the manor a success?  Does she accomplish what she wanted to?
  • (2) Back at the inn, Alyce is tested.  Does she succeed?  What does she do differently?
  • (2) Is Alyce an "Angel" or "Saint"?  What does she say when people ask her that question?
  • (2) Who is the month of June named after?  Why is that important to this story?
  • (4) Alyce has three good options in Chapter 17; but instead of choosing one of these,

  •      she decides to return to the village.
         -What are her three options?
         -Why does she decide to return to the village instead?
  • Initially, Jane Sharp would not allow Alyce to be her apprentice again. Why?
  • What does Alyce learn about the importance of perseverance?

  • Why will perseverance help Alyce when she becomes a midwife? (hint: see page 88).
    What other qualities did Alyce have that helped her survive and succeed. Be sure to give examples.

    Bonus Questions:

  • Give at least three examples of the ways that the lives and treatment of children in this novel are different than those of kids, like you, who live in America today.

  •      -Would you want to trade places with Alyce? (why? or why not?)
         -Are there any advantages to her situation, compared to yours? (besides homework).
         -What might Alyce think about going to 7th Grade classes at Laguna Middle School?

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