The hilarious diary of Catherine (called Birdy) in the year 1291. Catherine is 14. It's high time she was married - or that's what her father thinks. But Catherine is going to do everything she can to get rid of Shaggy Beard, the most disgusting suitor, 'whose breath smells like the mouth of Hell, who makes wind like others make music, who is ugly and old'. And she has no intention of becoming the perfect medieval lady like her mother wants, either. Whether she's grappling with spinning, or giving tips on flea removal, Catherine's fight for freedom is as funny as it is poignant. But can she find a better life for herself?
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Catherine, a spirited and inquisitive young woman of good family, narrates in diary form the story of her fourteenth year—the year 1290. A Newbery Honor Book.From the Inside Flap:
Karen Cushman has a long-standing interest in history. Growing tired of hearing about kings, princes, generals, and presidents, she wanted to know what life was like for ordinary young people in other times. Her research into medieval English history and culture led to the writing of Catherine, Called Birdy, her first work.
Contained in this program is Catherine's diary -- Catherine, called Little Bird or Birdy, daughter of Rollo and the lady Aislinn, sister to Thomas, Edward, and the abominable Robert.
Begun this 12th day of September in the year of Our Lord 1290...I am commanded to write an account of my days. I am bit by fleas and plagued by family...Tangled my spinning again. Corpus bones, what a torture...Spent two hours embroidering a cloth for the church and three hours picking out the stitches after my mother saw it...Picked off twenty-nine fleas today.
Catherine's mother wants to teach her the skills of the lady of the manor and to prepare her to be a gentle and patient wife. Her father wants only to see her married off, and profitably. Catherine fancies herself a painter, a Crusader, a maker of songs, a peddler, a minstrel, a monk, a wart charmer...Of all the possibilities, she has ruled out only one: being sold like cheese to the highest bidder.
Against a vivid backdrop of everyday life on a medieval English manor, Catherine's earthy, spirited account of her fourteenth year is a richly entertaining story with an utterly unforgettable heroine.
Kate Maberly's film credits include The Secret Garden, Friendship Field and Gulliver's Travels. She appeared in the ABC miniseries The Langoliers.
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