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The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate

by Jacqueline Kelly

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,6641644,321 (4.1)73
  1. 20
    The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley (foggidawn)
  2. 20
    The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith (stevedore)
    stevedore: Similar light-hearted quirky characters and lack of dramatic tension.
  3. 00
    Deadly by Julie Chibbaro (kaledrina)
  4. 00
    The Danger Box by Blue Balliett (keeneam)
    keeneam: Also deals with Darwin at the present time rather than the past.
  5. 00
    Mary Mae and the Gospel Truth by Sandra Dutton (kaledrina)
    kaledrina: Calpurnia is a little more of a difficult read than Mary Mae, but both girls deal with similar issues.
  6. 00
    Roller Skates by Ruth Sawyer (kaledrina)
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Showing 1-5 of 156 (next | show all)
Great story about discovery- learning and bonding. ( )
  rebeccar76 | Jun 24, 2015 |
Calpurnia Tate, nicknamed Callie, is twelve-years old growing up in Texas in 1899, surrounded by a pack of brothers. While her mother vainly tries to push the art of housewifery on the domestically inept Callie, she finds herself gravitating toward her naturalist grandfather, who encourages her scientific interest. The book strikes a balance between the natural pangs of growing up, particularly into something that she's not sure she wants to be - namely, a wife and mother - and her growing relationship with her grandfather and science.

As a young woman with my own pack of brothers (also the only girl) in Texas and drafted into Lady Lessons by my well-meaning but adorably anachronistic grandmother, I already felt a strong kinmanship with Callie. My own grandmother reigned over me for two hours a day, desperately imparting the art of cooking, crocheting, piano playing, posture, manners, and cleaning onto my rebellious and tomboyish soul. Callie's inner dialogue regarding the same made me laugh out loud with nostalgia; if only I had been as witty as she was when forced through my own lessons!

In fact, the book moves along as more snapshots throughout the year and, unlike most young adult novels, which almost invariably reach the climax through either a death or a marriage, this one is perfectly capable of rendering a suitable ending without resorting to trite measures. The ending is satisfying without being fully resolved, but ends on a hopeful note.

Mostly, though, you want to read this for Callie, who is independent, feisty, hilarious, caring, and adventurous. She's never too precocious for her age, nor annoying, but perfectly drawn. While my own experiences were nearly exactly replicated, I think this book will appeal to anyone who remembers being twelve - first discovering new things, constantly being told what to do and what you will be, and learning that there is more out there than you could have ever imagined. ( )
  kittyjay | Apr 23, 2015 |
The best bit was on p. 16. Callie Vee is frustrated so she runs down to the river,

"and ducked my head underwater and let out a long loud scream, the sound burbling in my ears. I came up for air and did it again. And one more time, just to be thorough.... I would live my life in a tower of books. I would read all day long and eat peaches. And if any young knights in armor dared to come calling on their white chargers and plead with me to let down my hair, I would pelt them with peach pits until they went home."

The most discouraging thing about reading this is realizing that we still haven't come as far as we should in over a century. There are still people who won't let children learn about Mr. Darwin's work. There is still a lot of money wasted on debutante balls so that young women can be put on the market.

It reminds me a bit of the marvelous [b:Thimble Summer|854764|Thimble Summer|Elizabeth Enright|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1178926029s/854764.jpg|840256], but it's even richer, with references to more mature topics like Lydia Pinkham's tonic, and the short hoe (which I will be looking up when I'm done here), and Matthew Brady's photographs. Lovely family story, also coming-of-age, also historical fiction, also plea for the value of supporting each individual in their own characters and passions.

ETA The short hoe is exactly what it sounds like. The laborer is forced to bend down, row after row of cotton, or sugar beets, or lettuce. A long hoe would do the job, but it wouldn't make the worker feel subjected nor the boss powerful. It wasn't fully outlawed until 1985.

ETA (after sleeping on it) The cutting the hair shorter bit, described in the summary, is quite minor. In fact, it never does resolve with any dramatic effect.

ETA (June 20) My 15 yo son saw it and for some reason latched on and is done already. Normally he reads stuff like Percy Jackson, so I really have no idea how the cover of this led him to look at it. Anyway, he loved it. So, I recommend it to Everybody! ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Apr 14, 2015 |
RGG: Callie is a well-drawn female character, a la Karen Cushman, with fun and entertaining characters around her. The many references to scientific methods will appeal to the right reader. Not sure though if the issues of the role of women will still connect. And the ending is rather subtle and may feel unsatisfactory. A hard read for the target age group. Reading Interest: 10-12.
  rgruberexcel | Mar 29, 2015 |
RGG: Callie is a well-drawn female character, a la Karen Cushman, with fun and entertaining characters around her. The many references to scientific methods will appeal to the right reader. Not sure though if the issues of the role of women will still connect. And the ending is rather subtle and may feel unsatisfactory. A hard read for the target age group. Reading Interest: 10-12.
  rgruberexcel | Mar 29, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 156 (next | show all)
In her debut novel, Jacqueline Kelly brings to vivid life a boisterous small-town family at the dawn of a new century. Readers will want to crank up the A.C. before cracking the cover, though. That first chapter packs a lot of summer heat.
 
Phyllis Kennemer, Ph.D. (Children's Literature)
Calpurnia is an active, inquisitive eleven-year-old girl, living in a small Texas town in 1899. She takes no interest in cooking or sewing and is, in fact, inept in all household duties. Calpurnia is the only girl in a family of seven children, so her mother keeps trying to domesticate her, but Calpurnia consistently resists. She has developed a special relationship with her eccentric grandfather, a scientist and naturalist. They explore the nearby river and woods and are excited about the possibility of having discovered a new plant. Granddaddy loans her his copy of Darwin’s The Origin of Species, and a quotation from the book appears at the beginning of each chapter. Calpurnia reads this book and others, records her findings and questions in a journal, and aspires to become a scientist. Other than her grandfather, her family does not support her in this quest. Her future is left uncertain, but readers will be rooting for her to achieve her goal. This book presents an engaging piece of historical-fiction depicting the roles and expectations for women at the turn of the twentieth century. 2009, Henry Holt and Company/Macmillan, $16.99. Ages 9 to 12.

added by kthomp25 | editChildren's Literature, Phyllis Kennemer
 
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Epigraph
When a young naturalist commences the study of a group of organisms quite unknown to him, he is at first much perplexed to determine what differences to consider... for her knows nothing of the amount and kind of variation to which the group is subject...
[Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species]
The laws governing inheritance are quite unknown; no one can say why...the child often revert in certain characters to its grandfather...
[Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species]
Seedlings from the same fruit, and the young of the same litter, sometimes differ considerably from each other, though both the young and the parents...have apparently been exposed to exactly the same conditions of life...
[Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species]
We may conclude...that any change in the numerical proportions of some of the inhabitants, independently of the change of climate itself, would most seriously affect many of the others.
[Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species]
Dedication
For my mother, Noeline Kelly

For my father, Brian Kelly

For my husband, Robert Duncan
First words
By 1899, we had learned to tame the darkness but not the Texas heat. We arose in the dar, hours before sunrise, when there was barely a smudge of indigo along the eastern sky and the rest of the horizon was still pure pitch.
Quotations
One day I would have all the books in the world, shelves and shelves of them. I would live my life in a tower of books. I would read all day long and eat peaches. And if any young knights in armor dared to come calling on their white chargers and plead with me to let down my hair, I would pelt them with peach pits until they went home.
It was too bad, but sometimes a little knowledge could ruin your whole day, or at least take some of the shine off.
'The lesson for today is this: It is better to travel with hope in one's heart than to arrive in safety. Do you understand?'
'There are so many things to learn, you see, and so little time is given us.'
"The lesson for today is this: It is better to travel with hope in one's heart than to arrive in safety....we should celebrate today's failure because it is a clear sign that our voyage of discovery is not yet over. The day the experiment succeeds is the day the experiment ends. And I inevitably find that the sadness of ending outweighs the celebration of success."
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
Calpurnia Virginia Tate is eleven years old in 1899 when she wonders why the yellow grasshoppers in her Texas backyard are so much bigger than the green ones.With a little help from her notoriously cantankerous grandfather, an avid naturalist, she figures out that the green grasshoppers are easier to see against the yellow grass, so they are eaten before they can get any larger. As Callie explores the natural world around her, she develops a close relationship with her grandfather, navigates the dangers of living with six brothers, and comes up against just what it means to be a girl at the turn of the century.

Debut author Jacqueline Kelly deftly brings Callie and her family to life, capturing a year of growing up with unique sensitivity and a wry wit.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0805088415, Hardcover)

Calpurnia Virginia Tate is eleven years old in 1899 when she wonders why the yellow grasshoppers in her Texas backyard are so much bigger than the green ones.With a little help from her notoriously cantankerous grandfather, an avid naturalist, she figures out that the green grasshoppers are easier to see against the yellow grass, so they are eaten before they can get any larger. As Callie explores the natural world around her, she develops a close relationship with her grandfather, navigates the dangers of living with six brothers, and comes up against just what it means to be a girl at the turn of the century.

Debut author Jacqueline Kelly deftly brings Callie and her family to life, capturing a year of growing up with unique sensitivity and a wry wit.
 
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate is a 2010 Newbery Honor Book and the winner of the 2010 Bank Street - Josette Frank Award.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:57 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

In central Texas in 1899, eleven-year-old Callie Vee Tate is instructed to be a lady by her mother, learns about love from the older three of her six brothers, and studies the natural world with her grandfather, the latter of which leads to an important discovery.… (more)

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