When I was little, my Mammaw and I shared many stories and books with one another. One book that she shared was a book that she had read as a child and fallen in love with called A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter. I read this book when I was a boy and loved the character, Elnora Comstock. She was poor but still found joys in life through her explorations of nature.
As I read The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly. I felt those same feelings and connections that I found in A Girl of the Limberlost. Calpurnia Tate is a girl growing up in 1899 at the turn of the century. She is a girl from a wealthy family of debutante traditions. Calpurnia is the only girl of the family, so her fate seems to be sealed as living the life of a housewife her entire life. Her grandfather, however, builds a relationship with her that stirs her in other directions. He is a scientist and explores the natural world with the scientific eye of Charles Darwin. His laboratory is filled with specimens and experiments, and he teaches Calpurnia how to keep a scientific notebook. As her relationship with him builds and her curiosities for science grow, Calpurnia begins to question the expectations of her becoming a housewife and yearns to be a university student. Will she be able to break through the firm traditions of girls being the wife, mother, housekeeper, and cook? Will she grow as a scientist? Will her parents honor her greatest wishes in life? Join Calpurnia in her journeys and thoughts today by reading this book.
I always feel a deep connection with characters who break the molds that have been created for them by past experiences and traditions in their family. I was the first person in my family to go to college and leave my small hometown of Blue Ridge, GA. Unlike Calpurnia’s family, my family was very supportive of my efforts, but it was still difficult to go down a different path that what was the norm. I encourage all readers who read books like these to think about their dreams and what they need to do in order to nurture those dreams and make them a reality.
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate recently was recognized with the Newbery Honor for 2010. For the most part, the writing was very engaging, especially during the times that Calpurnia interacted with her grandfather. There were a few chapters where we learn more about the family that I thought were a little slow to read. If you find yourself slowing down with this book, give it a few more pages or even chapters and things will pick back up. In the end, I was very pleased and satisfied with this read and actually wanted it to keep going. If you choose to read this book, I would love to hear what you think.
Reviewed by Mr. Plemmons