Karen Cushman

Karen Cushman

Newbery award-winning children’s book author

Karen Cushman


Catherine Called Birdy

Catherine, Called Birdy

“Corpus Bones! I utterly loathe my life!!”

Catherine feels trapped. Her father is determined to marry her off to a rich man—any rich man, no matter how awful.

But by wit, trickery, and luck, Catherine manages to send several would-be husbands packing. Then a shaggy-bearded suitor from the north comes to call—by far the oldest, ugliest, most revolting suitor of them all. Unfortunately, he is also the richest.

Can a sharp-tongued, high-spirited, clever young maiden with a mind of her own actually lose the battle against an ill-mannered, piglike lord and an unimaginative, greedy toad of a father? Deus! Not if Catherine has anything to say about it!

Readers have purchased more than 1,775,000 copies.


Discussion guide

Bookstorm, a companion books list, and a visual for Smartboard display

Interview and reading on TeachingBooks.net

My Bookshelves: Medieval Times: Some of the books I used for research while writing about Birdy and the times in which she lived. I hope you enjoy reading them or using them for your own writing.

Medieval Book Production and Monastic Life,” Dartmouth Ancient Books Lab, 24 May 2016

Awards and Recognition

Newbery Honor Book

ALA Best Book for Young Adults

ALA Notable Book for Children

ALA Recommended Book for Reluctant Young Adult Readers

Booklist Editors’ Choice

Golden Kite Award

Horn Book Fanfare Selection

IRA Teachers’ Choice

School Library Journal, Best Books of the Year

American Bookseller “Pick of the Lists”

South Carolina Book Award

New York Public Library, 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing

Parenting Magazine Reading Magic Awards

Commonwealth Club Silver Medal

Notable Children’s Book in the Language Arts

Commonwealth Club of California Medal

Carl Sandburg Literary Arts Award

International Board on Books for Young People Honor List

ABC Children’s Booksellers Choice Award


“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. … Superb historical fiction.” (School Library Journal, starred review)

“The period has rarely been presented for young people with such authenticity; the exotic details will intrigue readers while they relate more closely to Birdy’s yen for independence and her sensibilities toward the downtrodden. Her tenacity and ebullient naiveté are extraordinary; at once comic and thought-provoking, this first novel is a delight.” (Kirkus Reviews, with pointers)