3.75 stars This book is basically a series of vignettes from a six month period in the life of a spunky, independent 11 year old girl living in Texas in 1899 Calpurnia Virginia Callie Vee Tate yearns for than the life of a debutante and housewife that she already sees her mother herding her toward She unexpectedly finds a kindred spirit in her scientifically minded grandfather, who encourages her inquisitive character and teaches her, not just about scientific observation, but about great women scientists The quotes from Charles Darwin at the beginning of each chapter have an interesting and often amusing connection to the events occurring in that chapter.When Callie first looks into her grandfather s microscope at a drop of river water, you can see the world opening up for her A teeming, swirling world of enormous, wriggling creatures burst into my vision, scaring the daylights out of me Something with many tiny hairs rowed past at high speed something else with a lashing tail whipped by a tumbling barbed sphere like a medieval mace rolled past delicate, filmy ghostlike shadows flitted in and out of the field It was chaotic, it was wild, it was the most amazing thing I d ever seen This is what I swim in I said, wishing I didn t know.This middle grade book reminds me of the Little House books of Laura Ingalls Wilder, but with of a feminist slant There s not much of a plot here, and what there is of it is kind of meandering and unresolved, but Callie is a sympathetic and engaging character, her brothers were a hoot even if they seemed pretty much interchangeable to Callie s grandfather and to me , and her life and experiences in a small town in turn of the century Texas felt very real Some fine research went into the writing of this book I particularly liked the scenes of celebrating the turn of the century, Callie and brother drinking the new drink Coca Cola back when the Coca part of the name really meant something , and winning ribbons at the county fair Callie and her friend Lula have a hilarious talk about getting married, from an eleven year old s perspective You have to let your husband kiss you once you re married And you have to kiss him back No, she said Yes I nodded, as if I knew everything there was to know about husbands and wives kissing That s what they do together Do you have to Oh, absolutely It s the law I never heard of that law, she said dubiously It s true, it s Texas law I wish Callie and the novel hadn t been quite so dismissive of homemaking Callie s mother has seven children and regularly resorts to imbibing a tonic with a high alcoholic content to get her through the day, and Callie can t imagine anything worse than being a debutante and then a housewife, even though her family is wealthy enough to have several servants but on the other hand I m a firm believer in opportunities and choices for women, and deeply appreciate the sacrifices made by women in prior generations that have enabled us to have so many rights and options for our lives today This book is a good reminder for young readers, and for all of us, of the importance of having opportunities to pursue our dreams. First, let me try to be fair and share things I liked I liked Calpurnia her spunk,loyalty and ambition to do great things I liked her curiosity about the world and her courage to forge a relationship with her grandfather In and of itself, I loved that relationship to be in with a grandparent the way she became would be a boon and blessing to any child However, though I thought her grandfather was likable and validated Calpurnia in important ways, his character seems to have devolved into a selfish, self absorbed presence that concerns himself only with matters that directly affect him I say devolved because we catch glimpses of a full and rich earlier life, but by the time we meet him, he seems to have distanced everyone around him, taking never giving, and the only reason he builds such an endearing relationship with Calpurnia is because she ventures into his world and on his terms he shuts out everyone else who is unwilling to make that journey In the end I wanted him to help her transition, to help her see that all of the bright lights of learning and discovery and important things can be had in every avenue of life if we choose to see it Through his encouragement and because of their relationship, she could have had that vision, but he was never willing to venture outside of his world long enough to teach her anything that broad I got the sense that her relationship with her grandfather would be fleeting and as her experiences diverged from his, Calpurnia would be shut out again as well.My second irritation was minor and a bit unfair, because the title of the book states clearly it s subject matter and I chose to pick it up, but I found the chapter headings to be a little irritating and manipulated, like the author was trying to push her Darwinian views a little too forcefully down one s throat.Lastly, and this would stop me from recommending the book to any of the young girls of my acquaintance, for who it is supposedly intended The role of wife, mother and homemaker is disturbingly undermined and devalued The following quotes summarize the tone of the book My mother s life was a never ending round of maintenance Not one single thing did she ever achieve but that it had to be done all over again, one day or one week or one season later Oh, the monotony I was exactly like other girls I was expected to hand over my life to a house, a husband, children My life was forfeit Why hadn t I seen it I was trapped A coyote with her paw in the trap.I leaned against the wall and stood there, empty, for a long time Empty of everything I was only a practical vessel of helpful service, waiting to be filled up with recipes and knitting patterns I finished the book, waiting for the moment when someone would help Calpurnia dispel the nightmarish destiny she was conjuring in her mind and help her to know that though every homemaker will feel the never ending round of maintenance , and on a bad day feel like only a practical vessel of helpful service that there are so many other beautiful days in between That being a wife and mother brings the great joys of life That discovery and learning and ambition are still there for the taking But, those ideas never emerged and she and we,were left looking ahead to a life filled with headaches and tonic, and frippery.A well written story, just not my kind of themes. 5 5Rese a completa Evoluci n de Calpurnia Tate es un libro muy especial, con unos personajes que me han enamorado La narraci n, dicharachera y distendida con las palabras de una jovenc sima protagonista de once a os, facilitan su lectura, aunque la historia tiene su propio ritmo Me ha encantado Calpurnia Tate, as como su inocencia, su amor incondicional por sus hermanos, su talento para la ciencia y sus ganas de rebelarse contra la estricta sociedad en la que le ha tocado criarse Sin duda, una lectura m s que recomendada. The spunky girl heroine She s an enduring character in our middle grade fiction From 1928 s The Winged Girl of Knossos by Erick Berry to Caddie Woodlawn and Roller Skates, historical fiction and so called tomboys go together like cereal and milk It would be tempting then to view The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate as just one in a long line of spunkified womenfolk True and not true Certainly Calpurnia chaffs against the restrictions of her time, but debut novelist Jacqueline Kelly has given us an intriguing, even mesmerizing glimpse into the mind of a girl who has the one thing her era won t allow ambition.It s 1899 and eleven year old Calpurnia Tate is the sole and single girl child in a family full of six brothers She is generally ignored until one day she asks her grandfather a question Where did the huge yellow grasshoppers that appeared during the unusually hot summer come from Grandfather, an imposing figure the children usually avoid, merely says that he s sure she ll figure it out on her own Only when she does exactly that does he begin to take an interest in her Before long Calpurnia finds herself a naturalist in the making Grandfather teaches her about evolution and the natural world, which is wonderful, but it s really not the kind of thing a girl of her age and era would learn Between adventures involving her brothers, her friends, and a whole new species of plant, Calpurnia must come to terms with what she is and what the world expects her to be Ms Kelly prefaces each chapter with a quote from Charles Darwin s Origin of Species.Now female spunk does not appear out of nowhere One of the reasons I was so disappointed in the book Red Moon at Sharpsburg was because you essentially had a spunky ahead of her times female existing in a vacuum You can t have your character say that corsets restrict the mind if they haven t been talking or reading something along those lines before What s so great about Callie is that she is different because she has been cared for and nurtured by a grandfather that treats her not just as a girl with intelligence, but as an equal Sometimes this is a comically bad idea, like when he offers her the first taste of a distilled pecan liquor, but often it is exactly what Calpurnia s brain needs And this book almost becomes a kind of detective novel as you watch Callie take a scientific question like what the floating creature is in her grandfather s study and work her way through the problem With her grandfather s encouragement she soaks up his attention and intelligent conversation and blossoms after all, she isn t any good at normal feminine pursuits of the time period anyway And it s what she s blossoming into that disturbs her mother so much.It s too easy to turn a parent into a villain when they work against a protagonist s hopes and dreams Particularly when those hopes and dreams are at odds with the norms of the day In this case the primary antagonist in this book is Callie s sweet but determined to make her daughter a lady mother Fortunately for us, Kelly s handling of Calpurnia s mom is delicate This is a woman who drinks a restorative tonic read alcohol on the side to make her days go by faster She has birthed seven children and most of them are male The result is that she probably wants to feel some kind of kinship with her one and only daughter, but what happens instead Callie is interested in what would typically be considered male pursuits Is it any wonder she feels somewhat abandoned by her girl, even if it s on a subconscious level I want to fight against making assumptions about an author before I read their book So whenever I get a new title from someone I don t know, I tend to avoid reading a plot blurb or biography of the writer Now if you had asked me, just as I finished the last page of Calpurnia Tate who Jacqueline Kelly was, I probably would have said she was a born and bred Texan I would have guessed that her family had lived there for years and that she had creosote and red Texan dirt swimming in her corpuscles Fact of the matter is, Ms Kelly s a transplanted New Zealander Canadian Yup She also happens to be a practicing physician, a fact that makes me feel even better about Calpurnia s scientific leanings.I wasn t crazy for thinking she was Texan, though Listen to the first two sentences in her book By 1899, we had learned to tame the darkness but not the Texas heat We arose in the dark, hours before sunrise, when there was barely a smudge of indigo along the eastern sky and the rest of the horizon was still pure pitch Ms Kelly is also quite good at turning the commonplace into the epic The war between a cat and a possum never leads to bloodshed, only a ridiculous pattern that Calpurnia notes in her books Neither I nor the adversaries ever fatigued of it How satisfying to have a bloodless war in which each side was equally convinced of its own triumph The writing in this book manages to do the difficult double duty of being both interesting and poetic It s the golden combination many authors dream of achieving.I was left with only one question by the end of the tale At one point Callie s beloved older brother is smitten by a truly horrid Miss Minerva Goodacre I will not give away the method by which she is dispatched only to say that it is thanks to grandfather But what it is that grandfather does is a bit of a mystery, and one that is never explained It is the only mystery of its kind in the book too Often Ms Kelly will drop key bits of information into the tale so that the older readers will understand what s going on and the younger readers will miss it entirely I am thinking of a moment when Calpurnia s younger brother Travis grows too fond of the family s turkeys and it s up to grandfather and Calpurnia to find a solution.I ve heard some people compare this book to Our Only May Amelia by Jennifer Holm Both books feature spunky there s that word again female protagonists growing up in families that consist primarily of brothers This may be similar on the surface, but underneath Ms Kelly has conjured up an entirely new and wonderful tale And with its spirited ending, I ve little doubt that there may someday be a sequel Jacqueline Kelly takes a wealthy turn of the 20th century girl and turns her into someone we can all admire Consider pairing this book with The Green Glass Sea by Ellen Klages or Linda Sue Park s Project Mulberry if you re interested in reading than one middle grade novel out there involving girls who love science Absolutely delightful.Ages 10 and up. Audiobook narrated by Natalie Ross 9h 1 m It didn t take me too long to fall under the spell of the spunky title character Calpurnia Tate is a dreamer and when she becomes interested in the natural world around her, a whole new education begins Much to the utter dismay of her parents who wish their only daughter would bend her mind to domestic pursuits, such as cooking and sewing Only Calpurnia s grandfather sees the rising potential in his granddaughter and seeks to encourage her to the best of his ability This was a beautiful middle grade novel and I am convinced many readers of any age would find something in Calpurnia they could connect with An instant children s classic 4 1 2 starsI think that every little girl probably has that moment of confusion, that moment when she realizes that the expectations for her will be different than those for her brothers or male friends I actually got to witness my little girl s a few months ago We were driving down a busy road on a hot day, and after seeing the second or third shirtless male jogger, she asked,why do they get to be nakedWhen I told her that it was just a custom in our society that women wear shirts outdoors but men don t necessarily have to, her first response was,Is that because girls tummies are ugly, but boys tummies aren tmuch to my dismay But, when I explained that it was just a silly arbitrary rule and had nothing to do with that, she had a very different reaction.She was outragedWhat if it was a really hot day and all we had were long sleeve shirts Then they would get to play outside all day and we d just have to stay inside and be bored That s NOT FAIR Yep, there you go, sweetie Just let that simmer.And I am not na ve enough to believe that it s just girls who experience this We all have pre established roles foisted upon us, based on the random accidents of race, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, and wealth We all have to try and balance what s inside with what society expects, based solely on what s outside.I think that s my favorite part of this book Jacqueline Kelley doesn t just show the struggle of one little girl with the expectations of rural 19th century Texas She shows us so much Viola, the quadroon housekeeper who s lucky to be house and not field Travis, the soft hearted brother who can t stand to take a life, but is expected to deal with the practicalities of a working farm Henry, the oldest, who s expected to go to university and be a gentleman, but just wants to get married J.B., the youngest who wants to learn how to cook but isn t allowed to even Calpurnia s mother who lays her own lost dreams upon the shoulders of her only daughter, and lubricates her day with generous dosings of Lydia Pinkham s 40 proof tonic And yet, none of these characters feel like cardboard representations they all feel like real people One can so easily see the motivations of Callie s mom, for example, who simply wants to provide her daughter with the greatest chance of success in her world, which means teaching her knitting, sewing, cooking, and deportment And Callie s grandfather comes through so vividly to me He s a man who has lived a lifetime of fulfilling his role, fighting a war and struggling to provide for his family and build a business But now he sees everything differently life is fleeting and short and precious, and every minute spent on appearances is wasted Better to be who you are on the inside, and let everyone think you re a crazy old coot.Callie and her grandfather discover that they have a special bond they re kindred spirits Somehow his love of science, logic, and research got handed down and wound up in a place that he didn t quite expect his only granddaughter But he takes it in stride, teaching her the scientific method and encouraging her curiosity As Callie s mind expands, she begins to chafe at the role that she s been given and she dares to want As a science lover myself, I absolutely adored the explorations of Callie and her grandfather Jacqueline Kelly so wonderfully portrays that feeling of amazement that fuels all scientists I can so easily remember my own first moments of astonishment how my own passion for science first blossomed If you re looking for miracles, then you really don t have to look any further than the world around you, or inside you I think that s what s at the heart of science.The ending isn t tied up neatly but it feels realistic When Callie dares to inquire about a different future for herself, people always respond, But don t you want a family of your own In that day and age, women weren t struggling and burning themselves magnificently at both ends to have it all Callie is but one evolutionary step toward that future After knowing her through these pages, I feel confident that she grew into a formidable woman.Perfect Musical PairingAni Difranco Not a Pretty Girl Well, I had to pull out all the stops for you, Callie Maybe you re not quite ready for this yet, but I know you have it inside you. Calpurnia Virginia Tate Is Eleven Years Old In When She Wonders Why The Yellow Grasshoppers In Her Texas Backyard Are So Much Bigger Than The Green Ones With A Little Help From Her Notoriously Cantankerous Grandfather, An Avid Naturalist, She Figures Out That The Green Grasshoppers Are Easier To See Against The Yellow Grass, So They Are Eaten Before They Can Get Any LargerAs Callie Explores The Natural World Around Her, She Develops A Close Relationship With Her Grandfather, Navigates The Dangers Of Living With Six Brothers, And Comes Up Against Just What It Means To Be A Girl At The Turn Of The CenturyDebut Author Jacqueline Kelly Deftly Brings Callie And Her Family To Life, Capturing A Year Of Growing Up With Unique Sensitivity And A Wry Wit The year is 1899 and Calpurnia Virginia Tate struggles with being the little lady her mother expects her to be Embroidering Sewing Cooking Whatever the hell for Instead, she likes to go explore her surroundings, writing down all the animals and plants she can find and learn about them from books She is encouraged by her grandfather, who even has a copy of Mr Charles Darwin s book imagine that Calpurnia lives in Texas and we follow her from one hot summer until New Year s Eve of the same year We thus follow her when she meets quite an awful librarian I had one just like that in my town s library once upon a time , when she has to play the piano, when she has to compete with her sewing against other girls, when she escapes family expectations and instead catches butterflies and dragonflies in her net or swims in the riverOne 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 and eat peaches Who could not love a little bookworm like her The girl is curious and tomboyish and it was a delight Just like her grandfather who is trying to make a good whiskey out of pecan nuts Their relationship just felt so comfy and reassuring Not that the rest of her family is actually awful Oh sure, there is some minor drama about some of her 6 brothers 3 younger, 3 older suddenly being interested in the opposite sex or about Calpurnia being expected to come out planned hoped for by her mother and we do learn about the Civil War through the grandfather s memories and what memories those were However, there is no nastiness and that was refreshing.Instead, the book focuses on science and the dawn of a new age important to scientific discoveries, technological progress and social movements It was therefore also a nice tough that every chapter started with a quote by Charles Darwin from his most famous book and that the story, apart from the occasional look at the unfairness of girls not being allowed the same things as boys, is a mild adventure of a young explorer who just loves the natural world I hope she ll be allowed to go to university maybe we ll find out in the next book. Una historia tierna, sencilla y apta para todos los p blicos, a pesar de estar escrita desde la perspectiva de una ni a de casi doce a os de edad La prosa entra able de Jacqueline Kelly nos gu a a trav s de un recorrido de descubrimientos tanto dulces como amargos el apasionante mundo de la ciencia y la investigaci n que llega de la mano del abuelo de Calpurnia en contraposici n con las perspectivas de un futuro dom stico y los valores tradicionales de su madre.La mirada de Calpurnia nos muestra detalles que solo un ni o puede percibir de una forma tan inocente y a la vez tan perspicaz.Rese a completa y mi versi n de la portada en A volte ultimamente piuttosto raro, d accordo, ma tant mi capita di trovarmi per le mani un libro di cui non so assolutamente nulla, neppure il tipo di pubblico per cui stato scritto L evoluzione di Calpurnia fa parte di questi rari casi, ha fatto un giro grandissimo, ha cambiato scaffali e proprietari per poi arenarsi sulla mensola sbagliata della mia libreria, quella dei libri universitari mi piace pensare che sia stato un po il mio contributo per spingere Callie Vee verso il suo sogno rimasto su quella mensola per circa quattro anni s , l ordine proprio il mio forte , e io chiss perch , forse per via della persona grazie alla quale ne sono entrata in possesso, mi ero convinta si trattasse di un brutto libro new age, di quelli che parlano di aurea e viaggi interiori per crescere spiritualmente, credevo che l evoluzione di cui parlasse riguardasse stadi dell anima e meditazione da quattro soldi Credo possiate immaginare il mio stupore quando, dopo appena quattro anni, mi sono decisa a leggere la quarta di copertina e ho scoperto di avere fra le mani un libro per ragazzi, che Calpurnia non nessuna metafora spirituale, che l evoluzione di cui si parla, almeno secondo quella descrizione, era da intendere in senso darwiniano Il vero stupore, per , arrivato quando ho scoperto che l evoluzione di Calpurnia anche altro, molto altro la crescita di una ragazzina, che passa dall essere una bambina curiosa e vivace per diventare una giovane donna determinata e pronta a lottare l evoluzione di un secolo che tramonta, lasciando il posto alla scienza, alla velocit , al tumulto della contemporaneit , infine, la bellissima presa di coscienza delle limitazioni imposte da una vita domestica che vuole la donna moglie e madre, cuoca e direttrice della casa, lontana dal sapere e dalla scienza Non so se questo romanzo possa essere davvero considerato per ragazzi di certo lo nelle intenzioni, di certo non c nulla di scabroso, nulla che un ragazzino non dovrebbe leggere, fra queste pagine, ma come ho letto in altre recensioni, mi sembra che questo sia un libro scritto per i ragazzi ma per piacere agli adulti E intendiamoci, bellissimo che un libro per ragazzi possa piacere agli adulti, nell ultimo anno mi sono trovata a lavorare con i ragazzi e con i libri, e mi sono innamorata di alcuni libri per bambini, ma il problema sta forse nel fatto che un libro per ragazzi deve essere scritto innanzitutto per i ragazzi E L evoluzione di Calpurnia non cos c una ragazzina, c un linguaggio semplice che spiega in maniera comprensibile tematiche scientifiche, c il costante tentativo di rendere accattivanti e appetibili delle vicende che hanno tutt altro obiettivo, ma c anche un costante alone di artificiosit che, credo, farebbe storcere il naso a molti ragazzini Sebbene ovviamente attraverso stratagemmi diversi, mi ha ricordato un po quei libri infarciti di un gergo che vorrebbe essere giovanile, ma che in realt risultano quanto di pi distante possa esserci dal modo di parlare e di pensare dei ragazzi L evoluzione di Calpurnia un libro che potrebbe piacere molto agli insegnanti, ecco, perch dietro ad una storia interessante si nascondono intenti didattici molto didattici, smaccatamente didattici e non ci sono tematiche scottanti anche se sono pronta a scommettere che qualcuno potrebbe gridare al ggiender leggendo di ragazzine che giocano nel fango, no vogliono sposarsi e chiudersi in cucina ma preferiscono studiare e dedicarsi alla scienza.Eppure, io questo libro l ho letto da adulta, con aspettative ed esigenze adulte o per lo meno, credo si avvicinino pi a quelle di un adulta che a quelle di una ragazzina delle scuole medie , e l ho apprezzato molto Perch mi si stretto il cuore nel leggere della presa di coscienza di Calpurnia, che tanto graduale quanto inesorabile mi piace pensare che Calpurnia, in qualche modo, non sia solamente una ragazzina che crescendo si rende conto di quanto le possibilit non siano in realt illimitate, di come diventare adulti significhi fare delle scelte ed andare incontro ad obblighi che ci condizioneranno e precluderanno determinate strade mi piace pensare che Calpurnia incarni la coscienza di un genere, che di fronte all ingiustizia della discriminazione i miei fratelli possono scegliere di frequentare l universit , io no i miei fratelli possono scegliere di non sposarsi, io no ai miei fratelli si possono affidare compiti difficili, a me no i miei fratelli possono essere pagati per il proprio lavoro, io no si rafforza e cresce in consapevolezza e determinazione, fino a diventare abbastanza forte da spezzare le catene delle convenzioni e dei pregiudizi.E, ecco, sebbene in maniera didattica, sebbene in maniera ammiccante, con strizzatine d occhio a genitori ed insegnanti, penso sia fondamentale continuare a ripetere ai pi giovani che niente, niente pu impedir loro di vedere la neve.
Jacqueline Kelly was born in New Zealand and moved with her parents to western Canada at an early age She grew up in the dense rain forests of Vancouver Island, so you can imagine her shock some years later when her family moved to the desert of El Paso, Texas She attended university in El Paso and medical school in Galveston lovingly known as Galvatraz among the inmates She practiced medic
- 344 pages
- The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate
- Jacqueline Kelly
- 20 November 2017 Jacqueline Kelly