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Catherine, called Birdy
 
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Karen Cushman
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Catherine, called Birdy

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3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  25,033 ratings  ·  987 reviews
(Summer Reading Edition)

Catherine, a spirited and inquisitive young woman of good family, narrates in diary form the story of her fourteenth year--the year 1290. A Newbery Honor Book.
Published 2007 by HarperTrophy (first published 1994)
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Carre Gardner
If there were a 6-star rating, I'd give it to this book. When it won the Newbery Medal for Children's Literature, it was Cushman's first book. It's Hi. Lar. I. Ous. Birdy is the 14-year old daughter of a 14th-century landowner in Merrie Olde Englande. While her father plots suitable arranged marriages for her and her mother tries to prepare her for being a wife by teaching her manners, needlework and herbal medicine, Birdy, the ultimate tomboy, plots ways to get rid of the suitors and sneak off...more
linda
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Delyna
My biggest complaint about this book is how horribly she speaks of her father. We listened to it on CD (edition wasn't available to post) but the girl who does the reading has a very "common" accent. Combined with her sharp tongue I couldn't feel for the character. She sounded like she should be cleaning out the stables instead of the daughter of a knight and a lady. In fact you are always surprised when she mentions a servant.

It is written in diary format which is so popular for this age group...more
Madeline
In reality, this probably isn't a five-star book, but I'm giving it such a high rating because this is the book that made me love reading.
I first picked it up in 4th grade and started reading it for no particular reason, and I loved it so much I decided to read all of Karen Cushman's other books as well. The rest is history.

One of my favorite parts of the book is when Catherine complains about her brother Robert and how he likes to "drown ants by pissing on the anthill."
Ten-year-old Madeline: "...more
Keely
Entertaining, but overall highly anachronistic. Yet another author who transplants a spunky, modern heroine into a vastly different culture without an explanation of how such a character could have developed. People forget that 'teenagers' have only existed since the middle of the last century.

I wish Cushman had created a protagonist who was both engaging to the reader and able to provide illumination of how much people have changed over time. That's the book I want for my kids. You know, if I w...more
Lars Guthrie
I'm foregoing a real review, except to say that I highly recommend this provocative and personal glimpse into the middle ages. Karen Cushman has done her research and put together a marvelous novel which should be an exciting find for young readers. Catherine is an exciting, witty and empathetic character whose 'journal' makes the work concrete and vibrant.

The problem, as I've noted with other great books such as 'Tuck Everlasting' and 'Dragonwings,' is that the joy of finding a good book that...more
Laura Garding
There were a few times where I was a little bit bored with it. That could have been partly due to the fact that it was written for a much younger audience and some things I am just not interested in that I would have found fascinating when I was a teenager. It was a pretty fun book for the most part though. I was surprised at how much I laughed as I read this book. The main character was quite comical and had a very different personality than I was expecting. She acted very much like I would thi...more
Sonya Huser
Okay, I know this story is contrived. No 14 year old girl in Medieval England would get away with even a fraction of the things Catherine does. She screams at her father, sets the privy on fire, runs away from home, and pushes kids into the river. She would have been beaten into submission long before.
On the other hand, the rest of the book does a fairly good job of presenting the horrors of life at the time. I mean, it is a book for kids so you don't want to scare them too much! Even attractiv...more
Bix
Cushman's Newbery Honor-winning book is wonderfully evocative, with its remarkably realized, feisty heroine determined to have a say in her own destiny, despite the strictures of her medieval society. Hilarious, endearing, and determined, Birdy's trenchant observations of the life around her are told with a refreshingly earthy honesty so real and direct that you put down the book sadly, feeling like you're being parted from a dear friend. Cushman manages to create her historical period in such i...more
Jennifer

This book was a very fun read. I'm always a sucker for diary style fiction and this one was done especially well. Cushman really did her research about the time period and that's essential. I think this book wouldn't have been so effective if Birdy had modern ideals and attitudes.

I remember reading a book in high school that was supposed to be set during the Industrial Revolution but the main character acted as though she was living in modern times. She traveled where she wanted, did what she...more
Josette
It's a little surprising that a Newberry Honor book like this has some pretty adult themes (aren't Newberries supposed to be juvenile fiction?). Comments like "since Meg the milk maid and Gerd the miller's son were found together in the barn, it looks like we'll need someone else to play the Virgin Mary in the Christmas play" (I am heavily paraphrasing, but that's the gist). Much mention of pissing and farting too. I suppose the author has given a realistic view of medieval life in all its gritt...more
Rebecca
Deserving of the Newberry award

Best YA historical fiction novel ever. Birdy is just as sassy as any modern girl but she's stuck in a medieval village where woman are property to be bought and sold. Her diary records the year before her marriage at age 13.
Rebecca
Absolutely excellent. Best YA historical novel I've ever read. Thirteen year old Catherine records the doings at her father's manor's house the year before she gets married. Sassy and smart, Catherine would fit in perfectly in modern times, but she lives in a medieval world where women are supposed to know their place (under the heels of men).

But still, Catherine finds a way to make her mark on the world.

Highly recommended. This book deserved to win the Newberry award.
Vanessa
Really enjoyed this account of life of a 14 year old girl in the 1200's in England. Castle life was not at all grand...esp castle for a Knight and his family. The wife and children still did some work/chores around the castle. money was not always available. Not sure how true that at 14 year old in the 1200's would be so obstinate to her parents...but it worked in this book. Learned about many of the Roman Catholic Days of Saints. Each day listed which saint was born that day. ex: 31st day of De...more
Melissa
Haha, this book is really weird.
Devon
Catherine Called Birdy was a witty, charming book to read. Catherine is such a great character because while she is aware that Edward will eventually read her journal, she is hilariously honest in her evaluations of people. She avoids her suitors at all costs, and comes up with all kinds of schemes to drive them away. Catherine is a relatable, down to earth character that feels real, with her devious nature and aversion to growing up, because while most teenagers want to be older and have more c...more
Heidi
This is one of the "classic" books that they like you to read in late elementary school or early junior high. I'm sure it would hold the attention for that age. And it is rather intriguing to read a book set in medieval times, especially with a spunky heroine. But there were quite a few bawdy references, though they were made to be light or humourous. Perhaps it was like that back then, I don't know. I do know that I don't like that kind of humor, or that kind of talk in general.

I certainly did...more
Lauryn
Catherine called Birdy
Catherine called birdy is a book about a girl named Catherine who is a very strong independent woman, whose father is trying to give away her hand in marriage. She views the men her father brings into the home and then judges them silently. Then when she finds something wrong with them she makes herself appear unappealing and downright gross. She doesn’t like the life she lives because she always seem to be doing needle-work all cooped up in her room. Many different times...more
Emma
I saw this book title on a list of historical fiction books online, and I remembered reading it in elementary school so I decided it would be fun to reread it and see what I remembered and liked about this book. The plot of this story centers around Catherine, and the fact that her father would do just about anything to make sure she marries a rich man. Catherine uses some of her own tactics to make sure these men go running for the hills, because she does not want to marry them. Birdy, as she c...more
Elisbet
Oct 01, 2012 Elisbet rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: preteens, young teens, interested adults
Recommended to Elisbet by: school
This is a book I have read and re-read to pieces. It's become a familiar friend, oddly enough, even long past school-required reading and into adulthood. I'm not entirely sure of the historical accuracy, but as the "coming of age" tale of a young girl in medieval England, it's pretty good! There's enough action to satisfy most kids, male and female alike. Birdy faces many age-related trials and tribulations, and slowly learns about the truths of life along the way. This is one of those books tha...more
Steph Su
In no other book set in thirteenth-century England has such a willful and admirable protagonist starred. Catherine, the fourteen-year-old daughter of a knight whom she claims is a rude pig, is called Birdy, and somehow the name suits her. She’d much rather be a villager, frolicking outdoors all day and not being reprimanded for getting her feet and clothes dirty.

Unfortunately for her, a well-off young lady has but one aim in life, and that is to be married to a well-off man. Throughout the year...more
Emily
Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman was not one of my favorite books.
Catherine had many of the characteristics of Ella from Ella Enchanted, such as determination, wit, and assertiveness, but without the vivacity which came through in the characterization of Ella. I found myself not really caring what happened to Catherine.
The format of the novel was interesting. Over the years, I’ve realized that writing in first person without becoming repetitive, pedantic and downright boring is diffi...more
Colleen
Throw away your history textbooks! Well, don't really, but this book is an awesome way to supplement your learning of this period of time--1290, England. It's got one of the spunkiest heroines I've ever encountered in a book. It's funny, it's suspenseful, it's gross (in an informative kind of way!). Catherine, or Birdy, as her family calls her, is a feisty 14-year-old. She doesn't want to do anything a girl her age is supposed to do--spinning, embroidering, and learning to act like a lady. Her m...more
BJ Rose
I love reading about medieval times, so when that was coupled with a Newbery Honor award, I expected to really love this book. It's well-researched, and I loved the comments Birdy made about each Saint-of-the-Day, but the book just didn't really keep my interest, so it gets a weak 4* from me.

This is about the 14th year of the life of Catherine, called Birdy, "of the village of Stonebridge in the shire of Lincoln, in the country of England, in the hands of God...in the year of Our Lord 1290." Bir...more
Panda Marie
This book is so very dear to me. I have re-read it so many times. I discovered it as a child and thank Karen Cushman for my love of medieval history and fiction that I still have a strong passion for today. Birdy is such a lovely character, strong willed and witty, I am quite in love with her. The book is made up of Catherine's journal entries, which makes the story fly by quickly, which normally makes me quite sad in books I like because then I finish them before i've had enough, but this book...more
trina
Oct 17, 2010 trina rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: sassy little tomboy ladies
Shelves: y-a-mazing
this book is pure GENIUS. i found my old copy the other day, stuffed unceremoniously in a drawer of junk, undoubtedly by my sister, who treats books like stinky old socks, and was simultaneously appalled by this treatment and overjoyed to have found it. it's missing the cover and is beaten all to shit, but you couldn't pay me to replace my copy. i must've read this like twenty times when i first got it. this is a book so funny, so clever and warm and well-written, it made me wish i lived in the...more
Josiah
This might not have earned one of my personal Newbery designations for 1995 (my winning spot going to Jacqueline Woodson's "I Hadn't Meant to Tell You This", and the Honor positions being afforded to Sharon Creech's "Walk Two Moons" and Karen Hesse's "Phoenix Rising"), but Karen Cushman has created an originally comical and at times touching story in "Catherine, Called Birdy".
The ambience of the Middle Ages is nicely rendered, and probably so close to how things actually were during those time...more
Lisa
This Newberry Honor book is really odd, so odd that I quit listening to it early on a few years ago. I picked it back up and almost considered quitting it again.

Do you think the daughter of nobility in 1200's England would be a vulgar snot nosed brat one minute and then kind to the outcast goat herd boy the next?

I do sympathize with Catherine as her father seeks to marry her off to the richest suitor regardless of Catherine's feelings. At the same time Catherine is so impossible, her father prob...more
Anthony Yan
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Molly Murphy
This is one of my favorite books. They call it a child's book but it is really written so maturely and cleverly- the characters are well thought-out and well developed and I love Catherine. Catherine reminds me a lot of myself and her character is witty, clever and perceptive of the world around her, sometimes brutally blunt and other times surprisingly sensitive. She is fierce, determined, opinionated, mischievous, brilliant, observant beyond her years, and all this wrapped up in the bundle of...more
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Karen Cushman was born in Chicago, Illinois.

She entered Stanford University on a scholarship in 1959 and graduated with degrees in Greek and English. She later earned master’s degrees in human behavior and museum studies.

For eleven years she was an adjunct professor in the Museum Studies Department at John F. Kennedy University before resigning in 1996 to write full-time.

She lives on Vashon Isla...more
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“I watched the early morning light pass over and through the windows of colored glass, leaving streaks of red and green and yellow on the stone floor. When I was little, I used to try and capture the colored light. I thought I could hold it in my hand and carry it home. Now I know it is like happiness-- it is there or it is not, you cannot hold it or keep it.” 33 likes
“Corpus Bones! I utterly loathe my life.” 22 likes
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