The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate
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.