Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

This is the story of one year in the life of 11-year-old Calpurnia (Callie Vee) Tate. Callie lives in Fentress, Texas in 1899, the last year in the century. She is the only girl in a family of six brothers. Callie is not your typical 19th century girl; she has no interest in domestic arts such as cooking and sewing. Her passion is observing and experimenting with the natural world. She dreams of going to the university one day and becoming a scientist. Unfortunately, such aspirations are almost unheard of in Callie Vee's time. The only one who really encourages her and inspires her to follow her dreams is her Granddaddy, a grumpy, fiercely independent but forward thinking Civil War veteran who shares Callie's love for science.

Once I got several chapters in, I began to enjoy this book more and more. It has several parts that made me laugh, and Callie is a very likable main character. I must admit that I found myself skipping the scientific information that begins each chapter. It was difficult to understand and tie into the story.

Kids who enjoy reading historical fiction and/or who share Callie's love for nature and science will enjoy this well-written story, which is a Newbery Honor Book. Because the book is rather long and includes occasionally challenging vocabulary, I recommend it to strong, upper elementary readers.

By Mrs. Norton

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