Cover image for Catherine, called Birdy
Title:
Catherine, called Birdy
Author:
Cushman, Karen.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Prince Frederick, Md. : Recorded Books, [1996]

℗1996
Physical Description:
6 audio discs (6 hr., 30 min.) : digital ; 4 3/4 in.
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.
General Note:
In container (17 cm.).

"Unabridged Fiction."--Container.

"With tracks every 3 minutes for easy bookmarking."--Container.
Language:
English
Reading Level:
Interest age level: 12 years and up.
Added Author:
ISBN:
9780788795206
Format :
Audiobook on CD

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Summary

Author Notes

Karen Cushman was born on October 4, 1941 and grew up in a working-class family in Chicago, but never put much thought into becoming a writer. Though she wrote poetry and plays as a child, Cushman didn't begin writing professionally for young adults until she was fifty. She holds an MA in both Human Behavior and Museum Studies.

Cushman has always been interested in history. It was this interest that led her to her research into medieval England and its culture, which led to both Catherine, Called Birdy, a Newbery Honor Book, and The Midwife's Apprentice, her second book and winner of the prestigious Newbery Award in 1996.

Both Catherine, Called Birdy and The Midwife's Apprentice have earned many awards and honors including the Gold Kite Award for Fiction from the Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, and was chosen as one of School Library Journal's Best Books of the Year. Cushman's work has also been recognized for excellence by Horn Book, Parenting Magazine, Hungry Mind Review, and the American Library Association.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 6-9. Like the recent The Ramsey Scallop [BKL Mr 1 94], this is a story of life in the last decade of the twelfth century as seen through the eyes of a young teenage girl. Here the heroine is feisty Birdy, who's been instructed by her older brother to keep a diary so that she may grow less childish. Birdy, the daughter of a minor lord and lady in Lincolnshire, reluctantly agrees, but initially she has nothing more interesting to report than how many fleas she has picked off herself. As the months roll on, however, life becomes more stimulating as Birdy's father tries to marry her off to a variety of suitors. The diary format helps portray the tedium of life in the Middle Ages, the never-ending sewing, cooking, and other chores; the dirt and the illness; and, worse, the lowly role of women in medieval life. But this diary style also inhibits the ability of the characters to come alive. Birdy's is the only real voice. Fortunately, it's a sprightly voice, complete with its own brand of cursing ("God's thumbs!"), that moves the action. Kids can read this on their own or as a supplement to studies of the Middle Ages. ~--Ilene Cooper


Publisher's Weekly Review

A Newbery Honor Book, this witty and wise fictive diary of a 13th-century English girl, according to PW, ``introduces an admirable heroine and pungently evokes a largely unfamiliar setting.'' Ages 12-up. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


School Library Journal Review

Gr 6-9‘The 14-year-old daughter of a rustic knight records the events of her days in the year 1290, writing perceptive, scathing, and often raucously funny observations about her family, friends, and would-be suitors. A delightful, rebellious heroine, determined not to marry the man of her father's choice. (June 1994) (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Catherine, Called Birdy Chapter One September 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. 13TH DAY OF SEPTEMBER My father must suffer from ale head this day, for he cracked me twice before dinner instead of once. I hope his angry liver bursts. 14TH DAY OF SEPTEMBER Tangled my spinning again. Corpus bones, what a torture. 15TH DAY OF SEPTEMBER Today the sun shone and the villagers sowed hay, gathered apples, and pulled fish from the stream. 1, trapped inside, spent two hours embroidering a cloth for the church and three hours picking out my stitches after my mother saw it. I wish I were a villager. 16TH DAY OF SEPTEMBER Spinning. Tangled. 17TH DAY OF SEPTEMBER Untangled. 18TH DAY OF SEPTEMBER If my brother Edward thinks that writing this account of my days will help me grow less childish and more learned, he will have to write it. I will do this no longer. And I will not spin. And I will not eat. Less childish indeed. 19TH DAY OF SEPTEMBER I am delivered! My mother and I have made a bargain. I may forgo spinning as long as I write this account for Edward. My mother is not much for writing but has it in her heart to please Edward, especially now he is gone to be a monk, and I would do worse things to escape the foolish boredom of spinning. So I will write. What follows will be my book-the book of Catherine, called Little Bird or Birdy, daughter of Rollo and the lady Aislinn, sister to Thomas, Edward, and the abominable Robert, of the village of Stonebridge in the shire of Lincoln, in the country of England, in the hands of God. Begun this 19th day of September in the year of Our Lord 1290, the fourteenth year of my life. The skins are my father's, left over from the household accounts, and the ink also. The writing I learned of my brother Edward, but the words are my own. Picked off twenty-nine fleas today. 20TH DAY OF SEPTEMBER Today I chased a rat about the hall with a broom and set the broom afire, ruined my embroidery, threw it in the privy, ate too much for dinner, hid in the barn and sulked, teased the littlest kitchen boy until he cried, turned the mattresses, took the linen outside for airing, hid from Morwenna and her endless chores, ate supper, brought in the forgotten linen now wet with dew, endured scolding and slapping from Morwenna, pinched Perkin, and went to bed. And having writ this, Edward, I feel no less childish or more learned than I was. 21ST DAY OF SEPTEMBER Something is astir. I can feel my father's eyes following me about the hall, regarding me as he would a new warhorse or a bull bought for breeding. I am surprised that he has not asked to examine my hooves. And he asks me questions, the beast who never speaks to me except with the flat of his hand to my cheek or my rump.This morning: "Exactly how old are you, daughter?" This forenoon: "Have you all your teeth?" "Is your breath sweet or foul?" "Are you a good eater?" "What color is your hair when it is clean?" Before supper: "How are your sewing and your bowels and your conversation?" What is brewing here? Sometimes I miss my brothers, even the abominable Robert. With Robert and Thomas away in the king's service and Edward at his abbey, there are fewer people about for my father to bother, so he mostly fixes upon me. 22ND DAY OF SEPTEMBER I am a prisoner to my needle again today, hemming linen in the solar with my mother and her women. This chamber is pleasant, large and sunny, with my mother and father's big bed on one side and, on the other, a window that looks out on the world I could be enjoying were I not in here sewing. I can see across the yard, past the stables and privy and cowshed, to the river and the gatehouse, over the fields to the village beyond. Cottages line the dusty road leading to the church at the far end. Dogs and geese and children tumble in play while the villagers plough. Would I were tumbling -- or even ploughing with them. Here in my prison my mother works and gossips with her women as if she didn't mind being chained to needle and spindle. My nurse Morwenna, now that I am near grown and not in need of her nursing, tortures me with complaints about the length of my stitches and the colors of my silk and the thumbprints on the altar cloth I am hemming. If I had to be born a lady, why not a rich lady, so someone else could do the work and I could lie on a silken bed and listen to a beautiful minstrel sing while my servants hemmed? Instead I am the daughter of a country knight with but ten servants, seventy villagers, no minstrel, and acres of unhemmed linen. It grumbles my guts. I do not know what the sky is like today or whether the berries have ripened. Has Perkin's best goat dropped her kid yet? Did Wat the Farrier finally beat Sym at wrestling? I do not know. I am trapped here inside hemming. Morwenna says it is the altar cloth for me. Corpus bones! 23RD DAY OF SEPTEMBERThere was a hanging in Riverford today. I am being punished for impudence again, so was not allowed to go. I am near fourteen and have never yet seen a hanging. My life is barren. 24TH DAY OF SEPTEMBERThe stars and my family align to make my life black and miserable. My mother seeks to make me a fine lady-dumb, docile, and... Catherine, Called Birdy . Copyright © by Karen Cushman. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.