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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate - Jacqueline Kelly

I loved, loved, loved this darling book. It's my second favorite I've read this year! It's set in 1899 and the main character, the young Calpurnia Tate, is a burgeoning scientist. Her grandfather, of whom she's generally been afraid all her life, is a scientist himself, and when he discovers Calpurnia is interested in science, they quickly become partners in exploring the world around them. Calpurnia records all her findings in a special notebook, and she makes sure to only include scientific observations once her grandfather's explained that to her, although occasionally that means she has to do a little erasing :)

Calpurnia is the only girl in a houseful of boys, so she has to put up with a lot of shenanigans and also has to learn to do man more "girly" things than she'd like. Her experiences of learning to cook and knit and tat (does anyone even know what that means anymore?) are hilarious and often made me laugh out loud as I was reading.

Each chapter begins with a quote from Darwin's Origin of the Species, and the title is a play on words based on his theories of evolution and Calpurnia's evolution as a young woman and as a scientist.

Calpurnia's character is extremely well developed, and I was very impressed when I read that this novel is this author's first book. I was also doubly impressed when I read she's also a lawyer AND a doctor. talk about over-achievers! Holy smokes.

People who like books about long ago, strong girls, or science are sure to love the journey through this novel. Available at the WOMS library.

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