Karen Cushman‘s Catherine, Called Birdy is the first middle grade book I’ve read as an adult. But it will not be the last.I picked up her book on the advice of Katrina Bender at the SCBWI Summer Conference in LA.
We went on to the autograph party and met Karen Cushman. After reading her book, I’m thrilled to have a signed copy!
Catherine, or Birdy as she’s nicknamed is a loveable, spirited character. She’s part dreamer, part rebel-rouser, part in-search-of-herself.
As the daughter of a knight, she does everything she can to avoid marriage to whatever man her father tries to sell her off to.
The entire book is written as a diary spanning the 14th year of Catherine’s life. Her entries are not only an intriguing glimpse into medieval life, but inside the mind of a girl of that time.
Her first diary entry delighted me:
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.
Through her accounts of her daily activities, we come to know her, her family, and her world.
She has some delightful methods for scaring off suitors.
The book ends in a thought-provoking manner where Catherine comes to see her place in the world and who she must be. It’s a very deep and moving moment.
If you have an interest in the middle ages, this is a wonderful family-appropriate read.