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The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate

by Jacqueline Kelly

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,6331634,433 (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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» See also 73 mentions

English (155)  Spanish (4)  Catalan (3)  Finnish (1)  All languages (163)
Showing 1-5 of 155 (next | show all)
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 |
For a Newbery Honor, I thought there would be more umph in the story, more wow. Compared to life in 2013, life in 1899 doesn't hold comparable wow's, so, maybe I was expecting too much. This was a fine story to communicate to children, young and not-so-young, how typical lives were led at the turn of the century. A little comical in that people in 1899 worried about the end of the world coming with the change of the century, similar to the Y2K scare as we changed to the 21st century. ( )
  olongbourn | Mar 1, 2015 |
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly takes place in the last year of the nineteenth century in Fentress, Texas. Calpurnia Tate is the only daughter in a large family where the boys have been named for Confederate heroes. Her mother wants desperately to get her ready for her debut but Calpurnia wants nothing more than to spend time with her grandfather, exploring the natural world.

Calpurnia is the first grandchild to take any interest in the grandfather's experiments. He is a naturalist and a devotee of Charles Darwin, stuck in a place where that sort of thinking is alien and dangerous. But he's an old man and a respected war hero, so he is given space to do his own thing. When he takes Calpurnia under his wing, people start to notice.

In the middle of all of this, Calpurnia and he make a discovery, a new type of hairy vetch that they can't find in any of their botany books. Much of the drama of the back half of the book is drawn up in the waiting for an answer. Is this hairy vetch something new or not?

Though the strong feminist message is the main point of the book, I got caught up in the vetch plot. Like Calpurnia, I love nothing more than exploring the nature around me. She had her creek and I have mine: Sulphur, San Lorenzo, Dry and Alameda. And along, grows a beautiful pink and purple flower, which, thanks now to Calpurnia, I know is a type of vetch. I haven't though found any new species — but that's not my thing. Mine is photography. ( )
  pussreboots | Feb 3, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 155 (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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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:54:27 -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)

» see all 4 descriptions

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