Bobby Simic's Reviews > The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
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Dec 22, 09

bookshelves: kidsstuff, historical

11-year-old Calpurnia Virginia Tate lives a somewhat privileged life in turn-of-the-century Texas. Fascinated by the natural world around her, Calpurnia soon develops a bond between her distant Grandfather, an amateur scientist, as they roam Texas's wild, experimenting on and observing its plant and animals. Unfortunately, Calpurnia's wants of becoming a scientist are challenged by society's expectations of her and of women in general.

Calpurnia is all spunk, and unlike Lou Grant, I love spunk. Never really misbehaving but not quite able to reel her comments and behavior in completely, Calpurnia is funny and thoughtful and often brash and a wonderful, fully-realized literary heroine. The potentially treacly blossoming relationship between she and her grandfather is a nicely realized portrait of two people who admire one-another and are twins in spirit and in interests.

Kelly lets this story unfold nicely. The plot is never grafted onto something for the sake of making it more exciting. I kept waiting for an illness or tragedy or those out-of-the-blue storms that come so often in children's literature. Instead, Kelly asks of patience from her readers and rewards them, much like nature does, with a serene object of quiet beauty.
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