Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

By far the best book I've read this year! Eleven-year-old Calpurnia's world is forever changed when she befriends her Granddaddy, who introduces her to the world of science and gives her a copy of The Origin of Species. Set in Texas at the end of the 19th century, Callie comes up against her future traditional and expected societal role as the only daughter of a wealthy and respected cotton farmer. Her mother explains that she'll be 'coming out' in a few years and Calpurnia just doesn't see the point; she would much rather catalog flora and fauna than bake an apple pie or knit socks for her six brothers. As the year progresses and the end of the century approaches, Callie's mother makes it clear that she needs to spend her time learning 'The Science of Housewivery' instead of spending her time in her grandfather's laboratory. Jacqueline Kelly gives Callie a voice that is at once hopeful and resigned: "So I didn't like to talk patterns and recipes and pour tea in the parlor. Did that make me selfish? Did it make me odd? Worst of all, did it make me a disappointment? I could probably live with being thought selfish or odd. But a disappointment- that was another matter, a harder matter. I tried not to think about this, but it tailed me about the house all afternoon like a bothersome, bad-smelling dog demanding attention." A fantastic book for fans of historical fiction, blossoming feminists, and young scientists. Grade 6 - Adult