The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate
By Jacqueline Kelly
New York: Henry Holt, 2009.
340 pages Grades 5-8
Genre: Historical Fiction
The year is 1899, the state is Texas and the lead character is the very spunky Calpurnia Virgina Tate known as Callie V. Callie is eleven years old and has six brothers and lives at the turn of the century. The author does a wonderful job portraying life of a young girl at that time. At Callie’s age she will be learning how to cook the family meals, entering her sewing into contests at the fair and her studies would be how to run a household. But Callie has many, many questions and they are not about how to knit but about nature. Why are the green grasshoppers bigger than the yellow ones? Since, several generations live together in one household Callie gets to spend time with her cranky grandfather, who is a naturalist. Once grandfather sees Callie’s passion for science he opens her eyes to much more than just science! Mother tells her she can become a teacher or a telephone operator but Callie secretly wants to become a scientist. Listen to the voice of Callie V as she tries to break out of the mold of “what a young lady should be like”. This is a delightful historical fiction novel that will have you rooting for women’s rights!