Monday, August 15, 2011

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate

by Jacqueline Kelly
narrated by Natalie Ross
Grand Haven, MI : Brilliance Audio, p2009.

Calpurnia Virginia Tate - generally called "Callie Vee" by her six brothers - discovers an interest in science, much to the consternation of her mother, who would like her only daughter to be a proper young lady. But at practically twelve in 1899, Calpurnia is finding, with encouragement from her naturalist grandfather, a whole wonderful world opening up to her.

I didn't expect to like this book as much as I did, fearing that Kelly wouldn't be able to help bashing Christians in a book talking about a girl learning about science and Darwin in Texas. She does a good job of treading lightly and treating issues more complexly than that, however. A quote from The Origin of Species opens each chapter, and Callie has an adventure trying to borrow the book from the library. But her grandfather, an admirer of Darwin, is also good friends with the local minister, and there are no lectures on believing one way or the other. Callie is a great character. I loved the realistic interactions between Callie and her brothers, or her mother, especially. Callie jumps into things with both feet, like a true eleven-year-old, wondering about the world around her, whether it be the natural world or her oldest brother's love life. Narrator Natalie Ross did an excellent job of capturing her voice, as well as making each of her brothers and other characters sound distinctive.

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