Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Book Review: The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly


The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly is another book which the cover caught my eye. This looked like a book I would really enjoy after reading the book description:

Calpurnia Virginia Tate is eleven years old in 1899 when she wonders why the yellow grasshoppers in her Texas backyard are so much bigger than the green ones.With a little help from her notoriously cantankerous grandfather, an avid naturalist, she figures out that the green grasshoppers are easier to see against the yellow grass, so they are eaten before they can get any larger. As Callie explores the natural world around her, she develops a close relationship with her grandfather, navigates the dangers of living with six brothers, and comes up against just what it means to be a girl at the turn of the century.

Debut author Jacqueline Kelly deftly brings Callie and her family to life, capturing a year of growing up with unique sensitivity and a wry wit.

I really wanted to like this book, but in the end I felt let down. (Just lets you know to never judge a book by its cover!) There were many aspects of the story that I enjoyed. Calpurnia was a fun character. I couldn't help but enjoy her relationships with her brothers and especially with her grandfather. I think the heart of the story is in the relationship with her grandfather and how he encourages her to learn about nature. I also sympathized with her struggle to learn to knit, sew and cook.

One reason I was disappointed with the story is that it is interwoven with references to Charles Darwin and his book "On the Origin of Species". Since I believe God is our Creator, I personally was put off by this aspect of the story and I will not recommend this book to my children. Secondly, I felt like there were "holes" in the story. There were quite a few places that I felt I was missing a piece of the story I should have known. I went back and reread the places, but couldn't figure it out and felt like I should know what she is talking about. It was very frustrating.


  1. I'm here again from Semicolon--the title of your book caught my eye since I am a huge To Kill a Mockingbird fan! :-)

    Thanks for an honest review!

  2. Great premise for a book, and I love the girls name. Repeated references to evolution are probably there to reinforce the idea in the title. But I can understand how that might spoil such an otherwise good story for you. It's always nice to see an honest review.



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