Catherine, Called Birdy

Catherine, Called Birdy

by Karen Cushman


$7.99 View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Friday, October 25


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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780547722184
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 06/19/2012
Pages: 192
Sales rank: 57,515
Product dimensions: 5.16(w) x 7.48(h) x 0.43(d)
Lexile: 1090L (what's this?)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Karen Cushman's acclaimed historical novels include Catherine, Called Birdy, a Newbery Honor winner, and The Midwife's Apprentice, which received the Newbery Medal. She lives on Vashon Island in Washington State. Her website is

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"This unusual book provides an insider’s look at the life of Birdy, 14, the daughter of a minor English nobleman. The year is 1290 and the vehicle for storytelling is the girl’s witty, irreverent diary. . . . Superb historical fiction."— School Library Journal, Starred

"The period has rarely been presented for young people with such authenticity; the exotic details will intrigue readers while they relate more closely to Birdy’s yen for independence and her sensibilities toward the downtrodden. Her tenacity and ebullient naiveté are extraordinary; at once comic and thought-provoking, this first novel is a delight." —Kirkus Reviews, with Pointers

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Catherine, Called Birdy 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 185 reviews.
clemmy More than 1 year ago
Catherine is spunky and my hero when it comes to standing up for her own thoughts. She's not afraid of anything! Her father is demanding and controlling (or tries to be). She is very inventive and never uses the same scheme twice. Running off men who want a rich wife is very demanding. I like how she only writes because her monk brother told her it might improve her. It's nice to see how she grows throughout the book, embraces journal writing over time, and shares her doings. The book is also a nice insight to the middle ages. There must have been fleas everywhere.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is an excellent portrayal of life in the 1200's. It triggered my passion for Medival studies. Hillarious book by all means. Get it for yourself or your child NOW!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just finished reading 'Catherine, Called Birdy'. I thought it was...interesting. Deus! It wasn't exactly how I thought it would turn out. I mean, the whole book was pure diary. It was kind of hard to understand. Corpus bones, those medieval people! They had some weird celebrations, rituals, and traditions. It was pretty hard to understand. But over all, it was pretty good. It stood up for women's rights, had lots of humor, plenty of mishief, and a pretty good storyline. Some mild profanity, the use of God's name in vain as 'God's thumbs' were something I was concerned about, though. Now if only there were some dragons and fairies added to it...
staylo14 More than 1 year ago
It has a little latin in it so you might not understand some of the words.
debra felman More than 1 year ago
At first not so good but as you go deeper into the story it is very good
allison_bookworm More than 1 year ago
I love this book!I thought I wouldn't like it but I turned out loving it! It's full of love, humor, heartbreak, its fantastic! I do recommend this too girls though. I don't think boys/men would like it. In Catherine Called Birdy, Catherine is a young teenager who has to be wed to whoever her father picks. I even relate to this story on some parts! :) Read it!
Lucy Williams More than 1 year ago
this was my favorite book in 6th grade, so i decided to read it again and it is still so great and funny!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have probably read this book over 100 times since I was 9, and I enjoy it just as much every time I do. This book is full of spunk. Parts of it might be a little coarse, but come on, you know you find it funny anyway. I found this book to be accurate as I researched medieval life, and it made me really think about what it would be like to be 13 in 1290.
melina More than 1 year ago
I love love love this book it is about a girl from the mid evil times, and her father is trying to find her a husband and she is just not having it. It is funny at time histerical and the best part is she is not allow to use profanity but she substitutes regular words for profanity. It is truly a must ready for any 12 year olds and up.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is a very good book.I would recommed Chatherine, Called Birdy to anyone.Catherine does many things to repel her suitors.Her father,who she refers to as beast,unknowingly helps her turn away suitors with his untidy behavior.She becomes uncomfortable when she must sit and share her food and drink with a man.That man turns out to be another suitor.She soon finds out that she cannot turn him away, nor could her fathers greed.When she protests she is punished.In the end things become better and she becomes happy.I reccommed this to anybody who loves historical fiction.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just finished reading Catherine, Called Birdy and think that is the most boring book I've ever read. It was a waste of paper. I think that it should not have been a choice for a school reading books. After reading the other reviews I realize that many people don't agree with my but it is coming from a different generation. Sure there was many funny parts to this book but all together it really dissapointed me and I feel it there is no point to reading this in our schools.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think its boring because when we read it in la class i mostly fall asleep because its BORING i mean BORING i got in trouble for sleeping but it was worth it.:p lol
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is not realy an advancer book. It is more about her day to day life. Very funny in parts.
Mommadonnabob More than 1 year ago
This ws a very well written book about another era.
Les_Livres More than 1 year ago
"... This book came out back when I was in maybe the fourth or fifth grade - I thoroughly enjoyed it then, and it was a fun book to revisit. The format of the story is as if you are reading Catherine's diary, which I always like, because I am a nosy person. Obviously, if you are someone who likes having a certain depth in multiple characters, this book is not for you, but I think it is fun to read books set up this way, too. ..." For full review, please visit me (Les Livres) on Blogger!
Emma Williams More than 1 year ago
thia is one f the best boos in the world. catherine ia so spunky, and i love it!
cupcakes4eva More than 1 year ago
i had to read this for school, and I HATED IT SO MUCH. it's so boring, and, in my opinion, all the chapters seemed to blend together so it was hard to pick out details. if you like books with main characters that complain A LOT and are never grateful of anything, this is your kind of book! this book was terribly boring and i couldn't take reading it for two months. I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS BOOK AND NEVER WILL.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book "Catherine Called Birdy" by Karen Cushman is a novel about a young girl who doesn't want to marry a man her father picks for her. So she, being a young lady, rebels against them. Catherine's story takes place in the medieval ages where women aren't treated equal with men. Her father tries desperately to find a suitor for her, but Catherine scares them off by acting repulsive. Over time she changes and becomes more mature while her father becomes more impatient and determined. To save a bear, Catherine must promise to marry a suitor that her father had chosen. As the date of the wedding gets closer, Catherine becomes more worried. Before the wedding she runs away. After realizing so much about herself, she returns to find out that her suitor had died. To take the place of the deceased man is his son who is much more gracious. All things end happily for Catherine All in all it's a great book. It keeps you reading for hours. This book shows how strong and determined women can be. It gives girls hope even in life's toughest times and shows you can have happy endings.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was chosen by my daughter's 6th grade English teacher for a school assignment. My son also had to read this book when he was in 6th grade. My neice read it for her English class too, in another state. Their reviews were unanymous. They hated it with a passion. While it might be educational, it not exciting enough for the age group it is targeting. I don't think any child would actually read this book unless it was assigned.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Catherine Called Birdy
Karen Cushman
Historical Fiction

Imagine having your father choose your spouse, and having no say on who he chooses. What if your father chooses a smelly, drunken man who thinks an idea of a ¿good gift¿ is a silver toothpick? Well that's the situation that Catherine faces in Karen Cushman's Catherine Called Birdy. The reader of this book reads the diary that Catherine writes in every day. It is amazing how complicated life can be when one doesn't have to think about school, or what outfit should be worn tomorrow, or when a favorite TV show will be on! Her life is probably just as complex as anyone elses today, but in a different kind of way. What Catherine really wants to do is become a monk like her brother, not some fancy, elegant, rich girl her father wants her to be. This becomes all the more obvious when she goes head-first into a pig's pen in hope to find her ring she earlier threw in there. Or when she blacked out her teeth and stuck rat bones in her hair to get rid of a suitor. Even though her life is complicated, she still has time to spend with her friends. Whether it's playing with the puppies that Aelis brought her for a gift, comforting Perkin through a family death, or standing up for Perkin when Geoffery made fun of him, she will always be there. When you follow her story, you soon realize how difficult life can be for a young girl living in the 1900's.

Catherine is a fun-loving witty girl who always has a few tricks up her sleeve. Whether it's getting rid of her suitors, or finding a way to skip soap making, Catherine is always ahead of things. What will Catherine do when Shaggy Beard comes along? What will she do with her hardest challenge yet? Shaggy Beard is a very uncaring man. He sleeps most of the time, only to awake with ¿ale head¿ and when he's not drunk, he's getting drunk. He is a very smelly man because he doesn't bathe much... or at all. He also gets food caught in his beard when he eats (which is often). He doesn't care about anyone else but himself, which is just another obstacle Catherine must face in order to get rid of him. Perkin and Aelis are Catherine's best friends. Perkin is a nice, calm goat herder who spends most of his days out in the pasture watching the clouds. He always does silly things to make Catherine laugh. Aelis is a caring girl who in a lot of ways, is like Catherine. She falls in love with Catherine's uncle George but Aelis's father will not allow it, he'd much rather her marry a prince that just got out of diapers a few short years ago. Catherine's mom and dad, and Catherine's brothers are supporting characters that help make Catherine's story interesting and full of excitement.

Catherine Called Birdy is a must read for people who like historical fiction. It is a perfect example of what life was like in the 1900's. It was cleverly written from Catherine's point of view, living her life day by day, and overcoming obstacles that today, would probably not seem like problems at all. It is a really fun read that takes the reader back in time to the nineteenth century, when one had to make soap and was allowed to paint on the walls. The reader no longer has to imagine what the ¿middle ages¿ were like, he/she can just read Catherine Called Birdy, fall into the nineteenth century, and follow along in the events that are part of Catherine's every day life.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love to read young adult fiction, but this book I couldn't even finish, it was so boring! If you want to read about medieval times, get a history book, it will be more exciting! I will not even let my 12 year old daughter read it. It is supposed to be recommended for ten years old and up, but the sexual innuendos in the book are ridiculous and completely unnecessary. This book is getting tossed out. It goes ON and ON and ON, with no plot whatsoever. I can't believe it was ever published, let alone a Newberry Honor stamped on the front!!!
briannad84 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've had this book since I was about 11 or 12 and it's still one of my favorites! I love how everything turns out at the end.
RogueBelle on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is one of my all-time favorite books. I've read it at least once a year since I was 9 -- even though I'm an adult now, this book still retains its charm. I love Birdy's spirit and wit; her voice as narrator is just delightful. Cushman also paints a more realistic view of medieval life than many authors, illustrating that even the upper strata of society had to deal with muck, fleas, and filth -- while at the same time showing that people still found reasons to celebrate life, rather than sitting around wishing they'd been born in the Renaissance. ;) I heartily recommend this for all girls, and for all those still girls at heart.
ankhet on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The titular Catherine (called Birdy) is a fourteen year old young lady in medieval England. Her mother is kind and softspoken, her father is a beast, one brother takes after their father and her other brother is a priest. The novel, told in journal form, starts when Birdy's brother (the priest) gives her a journal and asks her to write in it, in the hopes of helping Birdy to think, grow more introspective, and grow up a little. Then Birdy's troubles begin: her father notices she's become a young woman, and decides it's time to shop for a husband for her.Catherine, Called Birdy was one of my favorite books as a child. It chronicles not only Birdy's attempts to foil her father's plans to (basically) auction her off, but also her life in 13th century England.
bplma on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Although it sounds deadly--one year in the life of Birdy, the13 year old daughter of a minor knight in 11th century England, as told through her diary entries--it is, instead, brilliant. Birdy is irreverent, manipulative, modern, lively, funny, thoughtful, moody, anxious, headstrong and thoroughly alive--she is Anne of Green Gables, Hermoine Granger, Jo March, Charlotte Doyle-- a strong adolescent female character coming of age and trying to make sense of her world. Birdy, as the daughter of a poor and minor knight, hates lots of things about her life--killing fleas, cleaning rushes, her older brother, endless needle work--and she fights against the social constraints put on women of her era-- sometime actually longing for the imagined greener grass life of the peasantry. In the course of the year she loses her best friend to a less than happy marriage and is herself facing the very real prospect of being married off to the highest bidder--which she decides to fight with every tool in her limited power. The details of daily life are certainly realistic--the actual character of Birdy--i'm not so sure--but that does not diminish the story at all--the character is one many girls (and boys) will identify with and while the ending is a bit convenient (yes, i 'll give you that) it is historic fiction and a great story and one that kids love. This is Karen Cushman doing what she does best.