Kelly, J. (2009). The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate. New York: Henry Holt and Company.
Calpurnia Virginia Tate, also known as Callie Vee, is the only girl, stuck smack dab in the middle of three older brothers and three younger brothers. She’s doing her best to be a 12- year-old in 1899 Texas. But when she starts spending time with Granddaddy, life starts to get exciting as she learns about science and the natural world.
This book is stunning, presenting complex issues like gender stereotypes and racism through the eyes of a 12-year-old, in a style that is reminiscent of Harper Lee’s Scout Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird.
As she is coming of age, Callie Vee’s parents expect her to get married and become a housewife. But Callie resists this, asking why. In fact, the question of why pervades the text: why must Callie become a housewife? Why can’t Callie’s younger brother learn to cook? Why can’t Callie learn science? These nuanced questions makes this episodic historical fiction tale a complex story that still resonates today.
Children interested in nature or science will likely find this an enjoyable read. It will also be a hit for historical fiction fans.
Overall, this book is undoubtedly a 5 out of 5!