- Age Range: 9 - 12 years
- Grade Level: 4 - 6
- Lexile Measure: 830L (What's this?)
- Series: Calpurnia Tate (Book 1)
- Hardcover: 352 pages
- Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR); First edition (May 12, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0805088415
- ISBN-13: 978-0805088410
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 288 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #167,933 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate Hardcover – May 12, 2009
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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
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*Starred Review* Growing up with six brothers in rural Texas in 1899, 12-year-old Callie realizes that her aversion to needlework and cooking disappoints her mother. Still, she prefers to spend her time exploring the river, observing animals, and keeping notes on what she sees. Callie’s growing interest in nature creates a bond with her previously distant grandfather, an amateur naturalist of some distinction. After they discover an unknown species of vetch, he attempts to have it officially recognized. This process creates a dramatic focus for the novel, though really the main story here is Callie’s gradual self-discovery as revealed in her vivid first-person narrative. By the end, she is equally aware of her growing desire to become a scientist and of societal expectations that make her dream seem nearly impossible. Interwoven with the scientific theme are threads of daily life in a large family—the bonds with siblings, the conversations overheard, the unspoken understandings and misunderstandings—all told with wry humor and a sharp eye for details that bring the characters and the setting to life. The eye-catching jacket art, which silhouettes Callie and images from nature against a yellow background, is true to the period and the story. Many readers will hope for a sequel to this engaging, satisfying first novel. Grades 4-7. --Carolyn Phelan
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All ages could enjoy it and I think all ages would enjoy it as it is funny and just a well written book. Any gender could enjoy it. It is a classic and a fine piece of literature. There is a second book, The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate which I have not read, but plan to I have heard is very good.
Written by a boy age 12.
Off to buy the second one at the request of my 11yo sons.
I do recommend this set.
While they could read it themselves if they wished- we chose to read this book together for bedtime and will do the same with the second book.
Calpurnia's curious mind is constantly getting her in trouble just like me. I can't count how many times that my own actions has gotten me in trouble. When I read the book, her emotions seep into me as if they were my own. When she finishes an experiment, I feel excited. When she is sent to bed without dinner, I feel hungry. When I finish the book, I want to pick it back up and read it all over again. I identify with Calpurnia so deeply, it's like she my sister--just she's in a book.