The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate

Jacqueline Kelly, Author . Holt $16.95 (340p) ISBN 978-0-8050-8841-0

Life at the turn of the century is not easy for a girl who loves books and science. Kelly's first novel presents spirited heroine Calpurnia (Callie) Virginia Tate, a middle child with six brothers, growing up in the isolation of Fentress, Tex., in 1899. To her family's dismay, Callie is stubborn, independent and not interested in darning socks or perfecting her baking skills like a lady. “I would live my life in a tower of books,” she thinks to herself. She spends most of her time with Harry, “the one brother who could deny me nothing,” slowly befriending her Granddaddy, a mysterious naturalist who studies everything from pecan distillation to microscopic river bugs. Together they dream up experiments and seek answers to backyard phenomena, discovering something new about the invisible world each day. Callie follows her passion for knowledge, coming to realize her family “had their own lives. And now I have mine .” Callie's transformation into an adult and her unexpected bravery make for an exciting and enjoyable read. Kelly's rich images and setting, believable relationships and a touch of magic take this story far. Ages 10–up. (May)

Reviewed on: 05/04/2009
Release date: 05/01/2009
Genre: Children's
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