Tuesday, January 12, 2010

"The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate" by Jacqueline Kelly

Over the Christmas holidays, I finally got a copy of "The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate" by Jacqueline Kelly. I had seen the book in one of my daughter's book orders and thought it looked interesting.

I LOVED it! The character, Calpurnia, was so lovable and I found myself rooting for her as she struggled against what her mom wanted her to be (a lady) and what she wanted to be (a scientist.) I recommended the book immediately to my niece who has always been a bit of a tom boy, preferring dogs to dolls.

I highly recommend this book. Plus, I love the fact that the author is a first time novelist who is also a doctor AND a lawyer. Whoa! Talk about your high achieving woman! I can't wait to read more by her.

Here's one of the starred book reviews I found on Amazon.com:

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 5–8—A charming and inventive story of a child struggling to find her identity at the turn of the 20th century. As the only girl in an uppercrust Texas family of seven children, Calpurnia, 11, is expected to enter young womanhood with all its trappings of tight corsets, cookery, and handiwork. Unlike other girls her age, Callie is most content when observing and collecting scientific specimens with her grandfather. Bemoaning her lack of formal knowledge, he surreptitiously gives her a copy of The Origin of Species and Callie begins her exploration of the scientific method and evolution, eventually happening upon the possible discovery of a new plant species. Callie's mother, believing that a diet of Darwin, Dickens, and her grandfather's influence will make Callie dissatisfied with life, sets her on a path of cooking lessons, handiwork improvement, and an eventual debut into society. Callie's confusion and despair over her changing life will resonate with girls who feel different or are outsiders in their own society. Callie is a charming, inquisitive protagonist; a joyous, bright, and thoughtful creation. The conclusion encompasses bewilderment, excitement, and humor as the dawn of a new century approaches. Several scenes, including a younger brother's despair over his turkeys intended for the Thanksgiving table and Callie's heartache over receiving The Science of Housewifery as a Christmas gift, mix gentle humor and pathos to great effect. The book ends with uncertainty over Callie's future, but there's no uncertainty over the achievement of Kelly's debut novel.—Jennifer Schultz, Fauquier County Public Library, Warrenton, VA

1 comment:

Yamile said...

I'm glad to read a good review of this book. I've been wanting to read it for a while.