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The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate

(Calpurnia Tate #1)

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  27,284 ratings  ·  4,352 reviews
Calpurnia Virginia Tate is eleven years old in 1899 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 ...more
Hardcover, 344 pages
Published 2009 by Henry Holt and Company
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Paula Sala Yes, you can find it as Las evolución de Capurnia Tate de la editorial Roca Bolsillo
Susan Grebe I don't think we were ever told!! Unless I somehow missed it. I was actually a little disappointed that we never found out - it was left to the…moreI don't think we were ever told!! Unless I somehow missed it. I was actually a little disappointed that we never found out - it was left to the readers' imaginations. I imagined that he told her that the family didn't really have any money (which wasn't true) (less)
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Best Book Cover 2009
317 books — 3,011 voters
Catching Fire by Suzanne CollinsWhen You Reach Me by Rebecca SteadThe Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline KellyWhere the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace LinThe Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo
Newbery 2010
106 books — 555 voters

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3.99  · 
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Hannah Greendale
Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend.

The year is 1899 and Calpurnia (Callie) Virginia Tate is eleven years old. The only girl of seven children, she’s expected to participate in lady-like activities and hone the skills that will one day make her a suitable wife, but Callie’s more interested in nature and science. With a little help from her grandfather – a war veteran and naturalist – Callie is able to explore the natural world and imagine a f
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
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 more 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 gr ...more
Feb 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Betsy by: Tim Jones
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 more 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 give ...more
Aug 17, 2009 rated it it was ok
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 ...more
Sep 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Catie by: Minli
4 1/2 stars

I 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 naked?” When I told her that it was just a custom in our society that women wear shirts outdoo
Apr 19, 2019 rated it liked it
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 more domestic pursuits, such as cooking and sewing. Only Calpurnia's grandfather sees the rising potential in his granddaughter and seeks to encourage her to th
Sep 20, 2009 rated it it was ok
Jacqueline Kelly can write, there's no doubt about it. The prose is lovely, intricate, and challenging, even for the adult reader. This is a book that will require the intended audience to digest the language and the work of art that has been developed.

That said, this story really, really did not do it for me.

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate was a very slow moving story with no real problem or resolution; instead, it's a portrait of a girl growing up in small town Texas at the turn of the twenti
Jul 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: girls 12 and up
Recommended to Heather by: DaNae
I loved this book, but I didn't give it 5 stars because I don't think it is a life-changing book for me at this stage in my life. Perhaps it would have been when I was younger, but not now. What it did for me, however, was reaffirm that time in my life when I started to "wake up," and really realize that I--a girl--could have aspirations of my own. I had a childhood much like our heroine Calpurnia--lots of time spent outdoors with animals. I too had a mother who exposed me to the "domestic arts, ...more
Feb 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens-books
In1899, girls are expected to grow up to be either wives or teachers. So what is a girl like Calpurnia to do? She is much more interested in different species of grasshoppers than in tatting or cooking. She would rather spend hours with her grandfather in his shed doing experiments than learning to knit all of her six brothers socks. As the only daughter in the family, Calpurnia is expected to be ladylike, play the piano, and eventually be launched into society. Calpurnia is much more likely to ...more
JG (The Introverted Reader)
"My name is Calpurnia Virginia Tate, but back then everybody called me Callie Vee. That summer, I was eleven years old and the only girl out of seven children. Can you imagine a worse situation?" "That summer" is the summer of 1899 and it is a scorcher. Amid the heat and the drought though, Callie is finding out who she is. She is a born scientist. She is a little lost in the shuffle of all those brothers, but one day, desperate for an answer to a scientific question, she bravely goes out to con ...more
Wavering between three and four stars. I liked this a lot; it was very funny in spots, and I enjoyed the setting and everyone in the family. (Monica mentioned that she couldn't keep the brothers straight until well into the book; one of the funniest moments is when the grandfather says "Which one is he?" about one of his grandsons--obviously he had the same problem.) It was maybe a bit longer than it should have been, but that didn't really bother me.

I did feel like it was occasionally insensiti
Aug 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
it's the summer of 1899. the sun is burning hot like a ball spouting fire, even the insects are desperately trying to get to a droplet of water by marching through the smallest cracks in the tate house. amidst all the chaos is 11-year old callie vee tate. the only girl out of seven children. the title says it all. this is her story.

callie is as witty, entertaining, caring, understandably self-conscious, vulnerable as she can be determined and blunt to the point of being insolent.
when being expl
Mar 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Christina, and everyone else
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate is such a little gem of perfection. Calpurnia--or rather, Callie Vee--lives in Texas at the turn of the 20th century, as the only girl among six brothers. While other girls are learning how to sew, cook, mend, and excel in other domestic arts, Callie would rather read Dickens and spend time with her hobby scientist grandfather.

I love this book to death. I love everything about it--the cover (classy indeed), the title (how perfect!), the writing (I wouldn't know i
Liz Janet
Aug 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I do not know if I have said this before, but I do not like books based in the U.S. before the 20th century, or many other countries for that matter. And yet, this book seemed to surprise me, no matter how much I was expecting to hate it.

This historical young-adult novel follows Calpurnia, as she grows up in Texas in the summer of 1899. This was a very restricted time period for ladies, as basic human rights were practically non-existent for them. The interesting part, this self-discovery novel
Rebecca McNutt
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate had me thinking of one of my all-time favourite classics, To Kill a Mockingbird. Evocative, serene and full of the magic of the natural world, this story is both creative and amazing.
Kristen Jorgensen
May 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate is a charming book about a girl from a well to do family in the middle of Texas during the turn of the century. For her first novel Jacqueline Kelly did a fine job of creating lovable and enduring characters. Calpurnia is witty, creative, and extremely bright. She craves knowledge and begins to form a relationship with her naturalist grandfather. Together they look through microscopes, distill pecans, and discuss Darwin along with Newton and other scientific maste ...more
Karen ⊰✿
Mar 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites, uno_2017
In Texas, 1899, Calpurnia Tate is 12 when she discovers she has a passion for the world around her - evolution, insects, animals, and plants. She finds a kindred spirit in her grandfather and they both start experiments and recording different species they find around them.
Overlaying this gorgeous tale of a girl and her grandfather is the time period and location where the telephone has just been installed in town (and to be a telephone operator is the height of a glamorous job!), Charles Darwin
May 19, 2010 rated it it was ok
I was disappointed with this book. I felt like the author kept introducing characters and plot lines and then only developing them halfway. That was frustrating.

Also, I found myself irritated slightly with the the way the author portrayed the whole notion of growing up, and becoming a woman, and what it meant in those days. Calpurnia yearns to be a scientist, go to the university and do things that matter in a time when women just got married and had families. Well, I think that Calpurnia's goal
Apr 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens, favorites
Wow, I really loved this book. It's just so well written. Truth be told when I read the description it sounded a bit boring. Young naturalist learning about Darwin in Texas at the turn of the century? Eh...maybe. But the characters are so wonderful you can't help fall in love with them and the descriptions of the natural world blew me away. I was hooked by the end of the first chapter.

There's only one problem, while I can think of a few select girls who would love this book, I'm not sure of it's
Sunny Houk
Apr 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Technically I would rate it 3.9 but there is no option for that. It was a slow pace read. There were several mentions of cursing. Other than that it was a good read.
Michael Jandrok
Jan 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Ok, in the spirit of full disclosure, I'll let it be known that I live in the geographic area where this book takes place. The main action in the book takes place in Fentress, Texas, a small town that I have visited many times, and I live in Lockhart, Texas, which is a secondary point of interest in the text.

Author Jacqueline Kelly also knows the area well, splitting her residential time between Fentress and Austin. Originally from New Zealand, Kelly has obviously lived here long enough to exper
By small and gradual changes are great things achieved. That’s one of the defining principles of evolution, and of Calpurnia Virginia Tate, the heroine in this novel. I finished reading her story aloud to my 11-year-old daughter last week. I suppose she’s too old for read-alouds, but I’m not telling her. Already we don’t do it every evening as we used to, which means I have the time to write reviews while she splits a gut with her father over a Netflix comedy. One of those small, gradual changes ...more
Stef Rozitis
I enjoyed this book and I struggle to fault it. I didn't always love all the characters and notably "Granddaddy" was slow to grow on me. It was an intelligent young girl's perspective. It both portrays well how constrictive Calpurnia's situation might have been- a nice tension between agency and societal pressures (which made it obvious why many brilliant minds might have just caved in and not "made it") and a tacit acknowledgement that despite her struggles Calpurnia is also highly privileged ( ...more
Mar 12, 2017 rated it liked it
This book wasn't anything to special. It is about a girl who is aspiring to be a scientist like her grandfather, but since it is 1899, is supposed to be a housewife. Her bond with grandfather grows stronger throughout the story as well as her passion for science. I didn't enjoy it that much because it wasn't exciting; the whole story seemed to be drab and just there. I wish a larger problem occurred, not just focusing on the stereotype of "women's jobs". Overall a decent book.
One of the better Newbery honor books. Quirky, thoughtful and honest, this book is a small little gem in the MG genre.
Feb 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
"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 and eat peaches."
First off, I've got to give a big THANK YOU to the Polish Outlander, who sent this to me for Christmas, just because she's fabulous like that. This book boasts a Newbery Honor medal, and having read it I can say it's really no surprise.  It has a lot of things going for it.  It's a great middle grade read, very fresh and fun (an accomplishment, I think, for a book set over 100 years ago), and I think Calpurnia's voice will appeal to a lot of kids, girls especially.

There's also a great wholesomen
This was a strangely perfect book to read in tandem with listening to Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything on audio book. I would be listening about van Leeuwenhoek and then Calpurnia's grandfather would mention him. It was a little odd to read two books that mention van Leeuwenhoek at the same time (especially for me, someone who isn't the biggest scientist in the world), but very cool.

But anyway, on to this book. I did like it. It was a sweet, interesting, gently funny story abou
Shauna Hruby
Jul 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: yearly-favorites
I just finished reading this book, and it was one of the most enjoyable things I have read in a long time. Jacqueline Kelly writes so beautifully about eleven-year old Calpurnia and her awakening to the world around and her place in it. This is not an adventure story and there is very little action. Ms. Kelly’s writing reflects this languor and slowness—her words are often like poetry: so perfectly chosen and evocative that they need to be read slowly to savor their impact. Besides the wonderful ...more
Mar 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
Jacqueline Kelly is an enormously talented writer and has created a character who will become an instant classic. Twelve-year-old Calpurnia Virginia Tate (Callie Vee) lives with her charming, well-off family in Texas in 1899. Callie has just become her naturalist grandfather's assistant and mentee, and is in love with science and discovery. Meanwhile, her mother decides it's time to improve Callie's feminine skills: tatting, cooking, knitting. As the only girl in a family with six boys, all the ...more
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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 ...more

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Calpurnia Tate (2 books)
  • The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate (Calpurnia Tate, #2)
“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” 285 likes
“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.” 267 likes
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