Amy Martin's Reviews > The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
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's review
Oct 11, 2011

really liked it
Read in August, 2011

Although there is a trend in YA literature of female lead characters, the question of "being a girl" is often left aside. If only we truly lived in a post-feminist world where there were no barriers on young women!
This book, set at the turn of the 20th century, addresses the issue of girlhood through the eyes of Callie Vee, the only girl in a household of boys, expected to learn sewing, cookery and other womanly tasks - but not until she gets to know her slightly scary grandfather is she expected to know anything of science, the natural world, or evolution.
Throughout the book, the chapters are headed with quotes from Darwin's Origin of the Species, and Calpurnia learns about a whole new world that she never knew might be available to her. She questions her role as a girl (since the womanly tasks she's expected to learn do not come easily to her or bring her joy), and even the role of women in the future, as the turn of the century looms, and she hopes that will bring change.
Overall, this was an enjoyable book, written in the voice of the title character, full of period speech and terminology that make it a great historical novel. I especially appreciate the political motivation in this book, in light of our "modern" society which still concerns itself with Darwin and the role of women and girls as though evolution and sex equality were debatable issues.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Christina (new)

Christina V. I just got this book for my classroom library! I didn't really know what it was about, but it sounds really good from your review!

message 2: by Amy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Amy Martin Oh, goody! I think it would be a great book for your students to read.

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