Book Review: The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate
Jacqueline Kelly
Ages 9-12
338 pages

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly won a Newbery Honor award for 2010. There’s a good reason why. This middle grade novel is a charming coming of age story set in 1899 Texas. (And, no, I didn’t like it just because I’m a Texan.)

In episodic style, Kelly takes the reader through part of Calpurnia’s eleventh year as she forges a relationship with her reclusive naturalist grandfather. The only girl out of seven children and the middle child to boot, Callie deals with her brothers’s troubles—issues like first crushes and making pets of turkeys—with wit and displays of vulnerability. While her interest in the world of nature grows, she struggles against her mother’s attempts to teach her housewifery with its needlework and cooking lessons.

The story progresses and it’s clear that Callie would much rather be a scientist than a housewife. The possibility of that happening is slim. Yet the poignant relationship she builds with her granddaddy is what brings her hope.

This is one of those books where I fell in love with the narrator’s voice. Callie’s interpretation of the events of her life had me laughing aloud and scrambling to find unsuspecting family members so I could read it to them. The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate is an enjoyable read, rich with historical detail and fully developed characters. I highly recommend it for those who love historical fiction.

Don’t miss the interview with Jacqueline Kelly on Wednesday. Friday’s post will be a contest to win a signed copy of Calpurnia Tate.


4 Responses to Book Review: The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate

  1. Emilie says:

    I’d heard buzz about this book shortly before it won the Newbery Honor, and I was so glad it did end up winning! Now if only it would come in for me at the library and I could read it! (Oh, and there is the problem of waiting until after Easter when I can read fiction again–my husband and I gave it up for Lent–yeah, we’re nuts:)

  2. Jennifer says:

    I started the book and ran out of time to finish it before it was due back at the library (there was a hold on it so I couldn’t renew it) so I’ve got about 1/4 of the way through it…now I just need to get the book so I can finish it!

  3. Tricia says:

    Don’t worry, Emilie, Easter is almost here!

    Ha, Jennifer, I hate it when I have to return a book before I can read it–usually it’s because someone has put a hold on it. 😀

    But finish this one. It’s worth it.

  4. QNPoohBear says:

    I read this book awhile ago and loved it! I want a sequel!

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