2014 is the 20th anniversary of Catherine, Called Birdy. There will be celebrations all year, there will be hoopla, there will be cake. Here for your reading pleasure is a list, in no particular order, of my own favorite medieval novels for young people.
Crossing to Paradise — Kevin Crossley-Holland
Gatty, the engaging peasant girl from Crossley-Holland’s Arthur trilogy, accompanies her mistress on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. When tragedy hits, it is Gatty who leads the group to the fulfillment of its pilgrimage and, by the time she returns home, she is much changed. The story is compelling, and the writing is gorgeous.
Blood Red Horse — K.M. Grant
Will and his brother Gavin follow the king on crusade to the Holy Land. Blood is shed, lives are changed and lost, but two things are constant—his love for Eleanor and the blood-red horse called Hosanna. Lovely, thoughtful depiction of the Muslims and their side of the conflict.
Book of the Maidservant — Rebecca Barnhouse
Johanna, serving girl to Dame Margery Kempe, a renowned and difficult medieval holy woman, accompanies her mistress on a pilgrimage to Rome. But Dame Margery abandons Johanna, who must journey through fear and anger and physical hardship to find her own way.
Knight’s Fee — Rosemary Sutcliff
A game of chess, a brave minstrel, a kind old knight, and a friend lead the orphaned Randal to squirehood, and his own courage paves his path to becoming a knight.
The Puppeteer’s Apprentice — D. Anne Love
Mouse, a timid orphan, joins the company of a master puppeteer, and she, too, learns to make the puppets dance. Searching for her own identity, Mouse ultimately receives a name and experiences great joy and great sorrow on her way to fulfilling her dreams.
The Ramsay Scallop — Frances Temple
Eleanor and her betrothed, Thomas, are sent on a pilgrimage to the shrine of St. James and come to realize the glorious possibilities of the world around them … and within each other.
The Wicked and the Just — J. Anderson Coats
Cecily’s family moves to Wales, where the king needs loyal Englishmen to control the rebellious Welsh. The Welsh Gwenhwyfar, struggling to survive under the hostile English, is taken as servant to the bratty Cecily … until tensions explode and the tables are turned.