Wednesday, February 23, 2011

j'adore Calpurnia Tate

This week I started reading The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate. If you haven't gotten it yet, you should. (Yes, I know I'm late to the party, Alyssa, but I finally arrived--you were right--most excellent reading.) How do I love this book? Let me count the ways:

1. The main character, Calpurnia Virginia Tate (Callie Vee for short) is a crackerjack of a free-thinking tomboy. She sparks and snaps off the page, like Anne Shirley or Caddie Woodlawn or Betsy (of Betsy-Tacy fame) or Ramona Quimby.
2. It takes place in the South, post Civil War, when times are a-changin'.
3. Callie's grandfather becomes the driving force in her life--think Cold Sassy Tree, another favorite book of mine.
4. Callie's mother sneaks sips of a "lady's tonic" that's 20% alcohol. Heh.
5. Callie has all brothers--a tribe of them--and they are funny.
6. Science is woven into every chapter and plot.
7. This book is enthusiastically about science. Particularly the natural world sciences. Callie writes questions (Why don't caterpillars have eyelids?) and observations in her Notebook--this book would make anybody a naturalist, but for a reader who already is one, it's great to read about a girl taking science and nature seriously.
8. The turns of phrase in Jacqueline Kelly's writing are marvelous.
9. Callie isn't moony and swoony over boys. So refreshing in a YA novel with a primary female character.
10. If great writing and fantastic characters aren't enough, the historical perspective presented is stunning.

If you've not grabbed a copy, you should.
Reading is fun.
Reading is good.


  1. I was reading this to my 11-year-old daughter. We both loved it. My daughter has an interest in science, and can use all the role models there are for girls in science. We didn't get to finish it though, because things got in the way of the reading out loud schedule. Thanks for reminding me of it - I think we'll pull it out again and finish it.

  2. I will definitely read it and perhaps to my daughter.

  3. I am happy to say I own this book. Now I just have to read it. :)

  4. Thanks for the recommendation. I'll add it to my to-read list.

  5. it's going on the list.... can't wait

  6. You said it!
    (But I said it first.) :)

    I LOVED the science in this book--loved it! And Callie's relationship with her grandpa. I'm hoping for another book by Jacqueline Kelly that's just as good. :)

  7. I hadn't heard of Miss Calpurnia until just this minute so you are one up on me!

    Thanks for the recommendation.

  8. I love it too and can't wait to read it with Caroline!

  9. Oh, this sounds great! I need to read this. :)

  10. I hope your absence from this blog means you are down here in Madison chanting and singing and cheering on democracy with the rest of us!!!!!!!

  11. Reading IS fun and good! Thanks for the recommendation. I'll have to read it!

  12. Woah!! If she's anything like those four epic heroines you mentioned at the beginning, bring 'er on! Need to find this book immediately.


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