Monday, February 20, 2012

Catherine, Called Birdy (MG)

Catherine, Called Birdy. Karen Cushman. 1994. HarperCollins. 212 pages.

September 12,
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.

This children's book set in 1290 (1291) won a Newbery Honor in 1995.

I wanted to like it more than I did. But. It just didn't quite work for me. Why? Well, I found the heroine, Catherine, annoying. I think readers are supposed to like her for her spunky independence. I think readers are supposed to admire her stubbornness and rebellious attitude.

I am NOT saying that Catherine's arranged marriage to a much, much older man, a man who disgusted her, was a good thing. I am not saying that I wanted her to just mindlessly say yes to the marriage just because it is what her father wanted for her. But I couldn't help finding Catherine just a tiny bit obnoxious. She was just so disrespectful, so disobedient, so strong-willed. It was just so draining to listen to her whine in each and every entry.

I'm also not sure how realistic the novel is. I'm not sure how many daughters were that educated. I'm also not sure how many girls kept diaries during that time period. I'm not saying that it was impossible, just that it was convenient. Speaking of being convenient, the ending, well that was extremely convenient. 

© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

3 comments:

Lisa Fry 7:50 PM  

I read this book when I was about Catherine's age. I rather enjoyed it then, but it's true that is wasn't particularly realistic. Thanks for covering a good book! Always great to read your take.

Mrs. Rohla 9:04 PM  

I remember reading this book as a kid and had much the same reaction: it was much recommended, and a little bit disappointing. I was annoyed by Catherine and the end was a little too tidy.

Kailana 10:35 PM  

I read this ages ago and hardly remember it.

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