Book Review: Catherine, Called Birdy

Karen Cushman‘s Catherine, Called Birdy is the first middle grade book I’ve read as an adult.ย  But it will not be the last.I picked up her book on the advice of Katrina Bender at the SCBWI Summer Conference in LA.

We went on to the autograph party and met Karen Cushman. After reading her book, I’m thrilled to have a signed copy!

Catherine, or Birdy as she’s nicknamed is a loveable, spirited character. She’s part dreamer, part rebel-rouser, part in-search-of-herself.

As the daughter of a knight, she does everything she can to avoid marriage to whatever man her father tries to sell her off to.

The entire book is written as a diary spanning the 14th year of Catherine’s life. Her entries are not only an intriguing glimpse into medieval life, but inside the mind of a girl of that time.

Her first diary entry delighted me:

12th day of September

I am commanded to write an account of my days; I am bit by fleas and plagued by family.

That is all there is to say.

Through her accounts of her daily activities, we come to know her, her family, and her world.

She has some delightful methods for scaring off suitors.

The book ends in a thought-provoking manner where Catherine comes to see her place in the world and who she must be. It’s a very deep and moving moment.

If you have an interest in the middle ages, this is a wonderful family-appropriate read.

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26 Responses to Book Review: Catherine, Called Birdy

  1. Carrie Rubin says:

    I usually volunteer at my son’s school’s book fair. I’ll have to see if they carry this book. Then I’ll have something to recommend to the kids. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. EllaDee says:

    When I first saw this, I thought “nah” but you’ve convinced me… I’ve added it to my Goodreads list. Nice work ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. berry says:

    Im not into middle ages at all. But it sounds great.

  4. I really enjoyed this book. How cool that you got to meet her!

  5. jmmcdowell says:

    It sounds like an interesting book. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be a woman in such timesโ€”not that a man’s life was particularly easy!

    • It was pretty fun to read. Her voice is very addictive. I was sad when the diary came to an end. She has to hem sheets and do embroidery and spin a lot. And she really hates it. Oh and the picking fleas off is not fun at all either. ๐Ÿ™‚ All part of her daily life.

  6. char says:

    I remember reading this years ago. It was very intriguing to learn about the middle ages through Birdy’s accounts.

  7. Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge says:

    This looks terrific – I like to read historical fiction…and from your comments this looks like a good one…will have to check out the author, too

  8. Interesting! Thanks for sharing, Kourtney! ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. “She has some delightful methods for scaring off suitors.” I’d love to hear about them! Sounds entertaining for sure. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for another great review, Kourtney!

  10. 4amWriter says:

    Oh, I like the sound of this. I’m always in the market for middle grade books that aren’t violent, for my 9-year-old daughter who would read The Hunger Games if I let her. Yeesh.

    Thanks for the recommendation.

  11. berry says:

    We all need to see ourselves as we really are. Important to our identity and self esteem
    Sounds good but not into thst era.

What do you think?