Catherine, Called Birdy
The first time I read Karen Cushman's debut book, Catherine Called Birdy was when I was in fifth grade. After my initial read-through I fell in love, and kept it in the car to entertain me on long drives (anything longer than 20 minutes!). My poor paperback copy was read over and over until it fell apart!
This Newbery award winning book interested me so much because it didn’t star the typical boring female characters I had read about in other medieval stories, who sat around looking pretty waiting to be rescued. Catherine actually had a personality and a will of her own.
Catherine is the daughter of a minor knight and her parents try to make her work hard at becoming a proper lady so that she can find a rich husband. While her father plots arranged marriages with old, rich men and her mother tries to prepare her for being a wife by teaching her manners and needlework Catherine plots ways to get rid of the suitors and sneaks off to the village where she can help with the hay harvest and socialize with the peasants. Catherine manages to drive off suitor after suitor, until her father brings home the ugliest, oldest, and foulest one yet, who unfortunately seems determined to stay.
This book, written as Catherine's diary over the course of one year, is full of rich details about life in a medieval manor. It is perfect for anyone who has ever been dissatisfied with their lot in life and is tired of being told what to do!