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Catherine, Called Birdy
Catherine Called Birdy
Author: Karen Cushman
"Corpus Bones! I utterly loathe my life." — Catherine feels trapped. Her father is determined to marry her off to a rich man -- any rich man, no matter how awful. But by wit, trickery, and luck, Catherine manages to send several would-be husbands packing. Then a shaggy-bearded suitor from the north comes to call -- by far the o...  more »
Info icon
ISBN-13: 9780064405843
ISBN-10: 0064405842
Publication Date: 3/31/1995
Pages: 224
Reading Level: Young Adult
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.

4 stars, based on 198 ratings
Publisher: HarperTrophy
Book Type: Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover, Audio Cassette
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

hoopridge avatar reviewed Catherine, Called Birdy on + 252 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 6
Some reviewers have said that Catherine sounds more like a modern American teenager than a medieval maiden. Well, that's because our idea of what a typical medieval maiden was really like was tainted by the Victorians. Females were not the "damsels in distress" we like to think they were. Women, even teen women, in the middle ages were land-owners, proud of their sexuality, and not afraid to speak their minds with no recrimination.

That being said, Catherine IS a typical medieval maiden. Learned, God-fearing to a point, outspoken, and proud. She doesn't want to marry who her father wants her to marry and wants to make up her own mind.

Her diary entries are hilariously funny and often mention her new ways of swearing ("corpus bones" and "God's thumbs", for example). As an adult, I loved to read her snarky writing about her lout of a father and her ways of sneaking out of work and chores...reminds me of my students!

Very deserving of all the awards it has earned and will turn your idea of what the middle ages were really like upside down.
reviewed Catherine, Called Birdy on + 94 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 6
This is one of the more kid-friendly Newberry books--so many in the past decade or so are the kind of books kids *have* to read in school but may not want to. The drama/suspense of what will happen to Birdy next, plus the weirdness of the historical details, should make it compelling even for kids who might normally not be into historical fiction. Birdy is a fun and strong protagonist. I loved it as an adult.
skywriter319 avatar reviewed Catherine, Called Birdy on + 784 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5
A well-written historical fiction story for preteen readers. Birdy is a likable main character with wit and guts that will appeal to modern readers. The ending even brought tears of pride to my eyes!
MOI avatar reviewed Catherine, Called Birdy on + 37 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
Delightful story of a 14-year-old daughter of a knight's exploits in avoiding marriage. True to the period and hilarious.
reviewed Catherine, Called Birdy on + 1430 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
There must be something of a child in me to so enjoy this book written in the form of Catherine's diary or maybe it's the wit and talent of the author who makes this young woman sound lke children I know and love. I chuckle again and again as I read about Catherine's efforts to avoid betrothal! Cushman write about this period for young girls so that they can in some way understand how life must have been for them. Cathernine, the girl presented in this novel is a mischievous tomboy in every sense of the word. A worthwhile read indeed.
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reviewed Catherine, Called Birdy on + 2 more book reviews
This is a fun and funny book that takes a teen's view in the middle ages. Though many teens were married off into arranged marriages, and life perhaps so merry, they were still teens, and it's great to see lively Catherine outwit the system.
JenShaw avatar reviewed Catherine, Called Birdy on + 12 more book reviews
Plot Summary

The thirteen-year-old daughter of an English country knight keeps a journal in which she records the events of her life, particularly her longing for adventures beyond the usual role of women and her efforts to avoid being married off

Critical Analysis

The story is told through the diary of Catherine, the 13 year old daughter of a medieval knight. She goes by the nickname Birdy after the pet birds she keeps in her chamber. Her father is trying to marry her off to increase his wealth but all Birdy longs for is adventure. Through several resourceful tricks she she scares off most of the suitors her father has chosen, until her compassion for a wounded animal, and her unselfishness toward a village couple, traps her into a betrothal with the older Shaggy Beard .

The book is filled with historical information about the food, religion, medical practices and herbal remedies, lack of cleanliness, and social order of medieval people. Cushman does a good job realistically portraying issues of the time such as, child marriages, death, miscarriages, and that marriages of the time were based on economics not love. At the heart of the story is Birdys realization that she cannot escape what the future has in store for her, but she can decide how she faces it, with courage and determination. Cushman successfully blends historical facts with entertaining characters and a realistic story.
zest4123 avatar reviewed Catherine, Called Birdy on + 6 more book reviews
What a lovely little story that captures a period of time forgotten to us now. Highly recommend, esp for teenage girls.
bookwormhouse avatar reviewed Catherine, Called Birdy on
Diary of a medieval young girl as her father attempts to marry her off. Catherine is irreverent but fun!