Karen Cushman Bibliography (arranged earliest to latest)
All of Karen Cushman's books feature young female protaganists living out everyday life. A recent article stated that she "is famed for her uncompromising heroines." She stated in an interview that she grew tired of hearing about princesses, princes and generals and wanted to learn more about common folk in other time periods. She is known for the amount of research and factual details that she includes in her books.
Cushman, Karen. 1994. CATHERINE, CALLED BIRDY. New York: Clarion Books. ISBN: 0395681863
The young protagonist of this story, fourteen-year-old Catherine, nicknamed Birdy for her love of birds, is plucky and fun. The story, in diary form, is set in 1290 medieval world and is chock full of factual details of the time period. Birdy's father is determined to marry his daughter off to the highest bidder but Catherine outwits all of the potential suitors. This book, Cushman's first, won a Newbery Honor award.
________. 1995. THE MIDWIFE'S APPRENTICE. New York: Clarion Books. ISBN: 0395692296.
The Midwife's Apprentice won the prestigious Newbery Award. It tells the story of a young orphan girl, Brat, living in medieval England. She is taken under the wing, albeit, not a kindly wing, of the local midwife who calls her Beetle. As Brat grows in confidence and knowledge she renames herself Alyce and decides that what she wants from life is "A full belly, a contented heart, and a place in this world." The book has a fair dose of humor and ample sampling of compassion.
________. 1996. THE BALLAD OF LUCY WHIPPLE. New York: Clarion Books. ISBN: 0395728061.
When California Morning "Lucy" Whipple's widowed mother moves from Massachusetts to a mining town in California to sell things to gold miners, Lucy is miserable and wants to return to the East. When she has saved enough money and enough time has passed she learns a lesson about what home really means. Ms. Cushman stated in an interview that she felt similiar to how Lucy did when her family moved to California from Illinois when she was a child.
________. 2000. MATILDA BONE. New York: Clarion Books. ISBN: 395881560.
Set in the medical district of medieval English township, the young protagonist of this story has to come to terms with what seems to be her fate in life. Matilda has been raised by priests to be pious, learned and to pray. Now she seems destined to serve Red Peg, the bone setter and is shocked at the worldliness and is dismayed by the menial tasks she is to carry out. According to the Houston Mifflin website, this book is "Filled with the witty dialogue and richly authentic detail that Karen Cushman's work is known for, Matilda Bone is a compelling comic novel about a girl who learns to see herself and others clearly, to laugh, and to live contentedly in this world."
________. 2003. RODZINA. New York: Clarion Books. ISBN: 0618133518.
This is Karen Cushman's latest book. The young protagonist, twelve-year-old Rodzina, (which significantly means family in Polish), is an orphan on her way from Chicago to California on an orphan train. Take a look at the jacket cover above and see if this is the type of child that you would want to adopt. She is big, bruised in body and in spirit but a spit-fire all the same. Finding a family (love, acceptance) is the theme of this book, and in the end she succeeds. Hooray!
Actress Glenn Close produced a movie adaptation of Karen Cushman's book The Ballad of Lucy Whipple. It was broadcast on CBS-TV, in 2001.
Click here to read more about it.