Reviews for Catherine, Called Birdy


The Book Report Reviews 1995 January-February
up in a way not entirely unlike her 20th century counterparts, despite the restrictive society in which she lives. Having been taught reading and writing by her older brother Edward, who is studying to become a monk, Catherine at age 14 begins her diary, writing on leftover animal skins. The year is 1290, and Catherine is expected to become an obedient daughter proficient in domestic tasks, to conduct herself with decorum, and to be married profitably within a year or two. Catherine has other ideas. She does what is necessary to avoid embroidery and other household tasks. She finds creative and sometimes outrageous ways to discourage the suitors her father foists upon her, and she seeks out small adventures, participating fully in the world around her. She's fun and irreverent, yet sensitive to other people and to the beauties and the vagaries of her world. A careful reader will see beyond the face value of her entries about her family. Robert, the brother she claims to hate, is really not such an ogre, and Catherine's father is not as uncaring nor as oblivious to her strengths as she thinks he is. By the novel's conclusion, Catherine is well on her way to becoming herself and has learned the art of compromise as well. Just as the reader suspects, her problem over a future husband is ultimately resolved. In the meantime, we have learned a great deal about life in the medieval times. (Don't miss the "Author's Note" at the end of the book.) The well-researched historical details seem as true as Catherine's adolescent moodiness. Cushman has accomplished her goal in a masterful fashion. Few historical novels written for teenagers are as delightful as this one. By Alice Evans Handy,? Library Media Specialist, Metcalf Junior High School, Burnsville, Minnesota © 1995 Linworth Publishing, Inc.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 1994
Catherine, the daughter of an impoverished knight, is in her fourteenth year when she begins a record of her daily life. Her diary of the year 1290 provides a revealing, amusing, and vivid picture of both Catherine's thoughts and medieval life. Her rebellious nature, questioning mind, and kindness to all creatures make her a sympathetic figure in this fascinating and thought-provoking book. Copyright 1998 Horn Book Guide Reviews

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 1994 April #2
``You can run, but you can't hide'' is the rather belated conclusion reached by Catherine, called ``Birdy'' for her caged pets, in this fictive diary of a medieval young woman's coming-of-age and struggle for self-determination. Escaping regularly into a fantasy life of daring escapades and righteous battles, Birdy manages to postpone the inevitable sale of herself as a wife to a very unwelcome suitor. Just as she resigns herself to her fate with the comforting knowledge that ``I am who I am wherever I am,'' word comes that she will not have to marry the oaf after all. Birdy's journal, begun as an assignment, first wells up in the reluctant and aggressive prose of hated homework, and then eases into the lighthearted flow of descriptive adventures and true confessions; the narrative device reveals Birdy's passage from rebellious child to responsible adult. Despite the too-convenient ending, this first novel introduces an admirable heroine and pungently evokes a largely unfamiliar setting. Ages 12-up. (Apr.) Copyright 1994 Cahners Business Information.

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School Library Journal Reviews 1997 September
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) Copyright 1998 School Library Journal Reviews

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School Library Journal Reviews 1994 June
Gr 6-9-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. She looks with a clear and critical eye upon the world around her, telling of the people she knows and of the daily events in her small manor house. Much of Birdy's energy is consumed by avoiding the various suitors her father chooses for her to marry. She sends them all packing with assorted ruses until she is almost wed to an older, unattractive man she refers to as Shaggy Beard. In the process of telling the routines of her young life, Birdy lays before readers a feast of details about medieval England. The book is rich with information about the food, dress, religious beliefs, manners, health, medical practices, and sanitary habits (or lack thereof) of the people of her day. From the number of fleas she kills in an evening to her herbal medicines laced with urine, Birdy reveals fascinating facts about her time period. A feminist far ahead of her time, she is both believable and lovable. A somewhat philosophical afterword discusses the mind set of medieval people and concludes with a list of books to consult for further information about the period. Superb historical fiction.-Bruce Anne Shook, Mendenhall Middle School, Greensboro, NC Copyright 1994 Cahners Business Information.

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