Little Willow (slayground) wrote,
Little Willow

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The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

Four years ago, I read The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly and wrote a shorthand review on a series of Post-Its...which I neglected to type up until now. Despite the delay, I hope this review will capture your interest, especially if you like good old-fashioned stories with young protagonists navigating life with determination and pluck. (Anne of Green Gables, anyone?)

It's the summer of 1899 in Texas. Eleven-year-old Calpurnia Virginia Tate - Callie Vee for short - is smack-dab in the middle of her family, with three brothers on either side. Callie loves the freedom of the summer despite the 106 degree heat. She bonds with her grandfather over a shared love for science and discovery, and grows jealous of her oldest brother's girlfriend for getting so much of his attention. A budding young naturalist, Callie notes field observations in her notebook every chance she gets. She would much rather be outdoors than enduring the typical tasks associated with "becoming a young lady."

"I had never classified myself with other girls. I was not of their species; I was different." - Page 219

Throughout the book, Callie takes careful notes on classifications, definitions, and descriptions, and each chapter begins with a quote from Darwin.

Speaking of quotes, here are some of my favorite passages from the book:

When Travis brings her Jesse James, the "best" cat of the litter (and yes, all of the kittens have been named after gunslingers), to keep her company, Callie says:

"Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really." - Page 60

Granddaddy shares this token of wisdom:

"The lesson for today is this: It is better to live with hope in one's heart than to arrive in safety." - Page 233

I love how clear Callie is about what she likes (and what she doesn't!) and who she is:

"One day, I would have all the books in the world, shelves and shelves of them. I would live my life in a tower of books. I would read all day long and eat peaches. And if any young knights in armor dared to come calling on their white chargers and plead with me to let down my hair, I would pelt them with peach pits until they went home." - Page 16

Related posts at Bildungsroman:
Best Books of November 2009

Tags: books, reviews

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