Carre Gardner's Reviews > Catherine, Called Birdy

Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman
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's review
Aug 23, 2008

it was amazing

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 to the village where she can help with the hay harvest and sing hey-nonny-nonny amongst the peasants.

The book is written as a journal and spans a year, during which Birdy learns to stop fighting against the position she was born to (including the arranged marriage!) Through her eyes, we come to see and know the village peasants as if they were old friends. It has all the elements relevant to 14-year-old girls in America today: the longing for a best friend; the parent-related angst; the feeling that no one understands you; the compulsion to do something that really matters in the world. Birdy is by turns selfish, generous, compassionate, merciless, moody and serene. It's a brilliant book: one that I read over and over when I need a laugh.
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04/05/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by Kit (new)

Kit Why can I not remember whether I've read this or not? I think maybe I was getting it confused with The Midwife's Apprentice, another Newbery book in roughly the same time period but which was NOT hi-lar-ious at all. Maybe I'll have to look this one up!

Carre Gardner Kit, The Midwife's Apprentice is also by Cushman and you're right:not hilarious, although a pretty sound book with all that history of midieval medicine and stuff. Not one to read over and over again though.

Mary JL Parts of the book are hilarious; but there is a very, very gripping scene where Birdy is going to see a hanging---eveyone did in those days--ans she is sickened that the "villians' are mere boys.

This book is very, very good.

message 4: by Naomi (new) - added it

Naomi Njugi I couldn't agree more on the comedy. I remember in 4th grade reading time laughing like a maniac at the scene where her drunk father pees in the fire. It was at that point my teacher made me sit by myself. Sad face.

Melissa I agree. I have read this many times over the last 20 years. Midwifes Apprentice I read once but this one, which I originally resisted reading, is just delightful.

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