Monday, August 1, 2011

Book Review: The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate

The Evolution of Calpurnia TateTitle: The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate
Author: Jacqueline Kelly
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Pages: 338
Genre: Historical and realistic fiction
Rating: 9/10

“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?”

Calpurnia Virginia Tate, is a young girl who lived in Texas in the year 1899. Back then, life was difficult. Even a cent was worth a lot. But a girl’s life was the hardest. They had to stay at home, to sew, cook, and knit. They weren’t allowed to be scientists. It just wasn’t fair. Instead of being able to learn about life and organisms, she was stuck at home learning how to be a wife.

In this book there is no main problem; instead there are small stories which consist of small problems. The cotton season goes by. Usually the women and girls had to sew, cook, and watch over the babies in the cotton season, but Callie didn’t find sewing and cooking interesting. So in the end, Callie took care of the small babies. Later the Fentress Fair passes, in which Callie’s (terrible) tattering (sewing) skills are shown off. Callie is not very good at tattering, another thing wives should be able to do. Travis, Callie’s little brother becomes quite attached to the turkeys that they are going to eat for Thanksgiving. The century passes and a miracle happens where Callie lives, Texas.

My favorite character in this book is Callie. Callie is a curious girl. She wants to study the world. And study the world she does. She studies alone, but that was before she had the nerve to ask Granddaddy. Now the two as a pair are “mad scientists”. But when Callie’s mother takes a look at how her daughter is progressing in the studies of housewifery, Callie’s time with Granddaddy is limited. And she must learn the secrets to being a good wife, which Callie definitely does not excel at.

Another one of my favorite characters is Granddaddy. He is a kind old man, misunderstood to be a strict and mean person by his grandchildren. As Callie opens up to him, her siblings start to get the feeling that Granddaddy isn’t the mean, cross person they thought he was.

I found this book very funny and interesting. Funny, because it is hilarious how the smallest events in Callie’s life, can cause quite a bit of confusion. Also, to me, Ms. Kelly’s writing seems like it is from the heart. It seems like she actually had 6 brothers, and this really did happen to her.

Join Callie, her 6 brothers, (Harry, Sam Houston, Lamar, Travis, Sul Ross, and Jim Bowie) in the book ‘The Evolution Of Calpurnia Tate’. I recommend this book to anyone that likes a bit of history, science and fiction mixed into one.

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