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The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate (2009)

by Jacqueline Kelly

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Calpurnia Tate (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,2742153,849 (4.1)85
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.
  1. 20
    The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley (foggidawn)
  2. 20
    The No. 1 Ladiesʼ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith (stevedore)
    stevedore: Similar light-hearted quirky characters and lack of dramatic tension.
  3. 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.
  4. 00
    The Danger Box by Blue Balliett (keeneam)
    keeneam: Also deals with Darwin at the present time rather than the past.
  5. 00
    Roller Skates by Ruth Sawyer (kaledrina)
  6. 00
    Deadly by Julie Chibbaro (kaledrina)

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» See also 85 mentions

English (205)  Spanish (5)  Catalan (3)  Italian (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (215)
Showing 1-5 of 205 (next | show all)
First off, what drew me to this book was the cover. It is absolutely gorgeous, and conceals so many important components of Calpurnia. I know, I know, "never judge a book by its cover" but I'm glad I did. I empathized so much with Callie who followed in her grandfather's footsteps and preferring to use her brain to study to natural world than her hands to sew or embroider. This book made me laugh, sigh with regret, want to scream and shake certain characters, and in the end, hope. ( )
  wisemetis | Dec 28, 2022 |
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly follows the above mentioned young lady through her eleventh year in 1899. Calpurnia lives with her parents, grandfather and her six brothers. She has an interest in the natural world and her curiosity and questions eventually lead her to her notoriously cantankerous grandfather. He spends his days in his laboratory or out hunting specimens.

She and her grandfather bond over their shared interests and Calpurnia yearns to be able to have more freedom from the expectations that are placed upon her. She has no interest in cooking, cleaning or sewing but she is expected to perfect these skills for a future as a wife and homemaker. She dreams of being allowed to go to university and becoming a scientist. Although there is no resolution to Calpurnia’s dreams, it is clear that she is a determined, ambitious girl and I can imagine that she will definitely have a say in what her future will look like.

I found The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate to be an excellent coming-of-age story. The author succeeds in making Calpurnia unique and believable, and the writing is engaging with humor and style. Written for middle-grade children, this senior citizen fell under the spell of this delightful book ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Dec 25, 2022 |
This story is set at the turn of the twentieth century in a small Texas town. The narrator is a likeable girl, and the ideas about Darwin and evolution that she learns from her grandfather are interesting, but the story itself moves incredibly slowly. ( )
  kamlibrarian | Dec 23, 2022 |
I read this many years ago and loved it. Calpurnia is such a strong character and her relationship with her grandfather is wonderful. Now I'm reading it again for Lopez Island Library's Never Too Old: a Young Adult Book Club for Adults. ( )
  bookwren | Aug 21, 2022 |
A great story about a young girl coming of age at the turn of the century. Highly recommended! ( )
  sharonlesch | Mar 1, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 205 (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

» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jacqueline Kellyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Margelí, IsabelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Meyer, Jennifer L.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ross, NatalieNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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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]
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.
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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Disambiguation notice
ISBN: 9780805088410 0805088415 9780312659301 031265930X.

Skunked is the first of a set of chapter books featuring the characters from The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate. It is a different book. Please do not combine.
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Wikipedia in English (2)

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.

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