Dawn's Reviews > The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
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's review
Aug 25, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: newbery-award-winners
Recommended for: Wendy, Emily, Rose, my mom, others

This is a delightful first novel by Jacqueline Kelly. The heroine is engaging, the story interesting, and the vocabulary stimulating. I love it when authors include high level vocabulary, but the young reader almost doesn't notice learning new words because the story flows so well. Calpurnia Tate is growing up in a genteel family in Texas at the turn of the century. Her grandfather is a botanist and biologist who has corresponded with Charles Darwin. No one in "polite society" appreciates his talents, and Calpurnia has always been a bit afraid of the gruff old man. But then she gets to know him better and has wonderful experiences under his tutelage. By the end of the book, she aspires to go to college and become a naturalist herself despite social disapproval of such a course for a woman.

I also appreciate the humor in the story. Here is one fun, memorable quote: "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."

Beyond the story, I also liked this book because the heroine reminds me of my mother. She also felt "different" growing up because not many people shared her passion for nature. But she became one of the first female ranger-naturalists in Yosemite National Park and gave me an idyllic childhood.
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Reading Progress

August 25, 2009 – Shelved
Started Reading
September 1, 2009 – Finished Reading
September 13, 2013 – Shelved as: newbery-award-winners

Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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Kristine Your comments about this book have me second guessing my original rating. I still feel like, for me, I wished it had held different elements and if so it would have easily been one of my favorite books all-time. So maybe I was too harsh just because it wasn't what I wanted, but on merit alone should bump up my rating to a 3 star . . . . hmmm.

It's hard on here to see other people knock on books I love - but that's the best part about books, they speak to us all in different voices and different ways.

p.s. I hope you like Where the Mountain Meets the Moon :-)

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