Book Review: The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly


So, let’s see.  Nice cover?  Check.  Sassy female protagonist?  Check.  Interesting and funny opening chapter? Check.

And yet, I don’t know.  There was just something missing from this book.

It’s the story of 12 year old Calpurnia Tate, or Callie Vee, as everyone calls her, growing up with 6 brothers in turn of the century Texas. Her family is obviously well off, and her mother wants her to do the traditional girl stuff, and hopes she’ll learn to cook and sew and come out when she’s 17, but Callie is much more interested in exploring and science and the natural world.  Her grandfather doesn’t pay much attention to her until he discovers that she’s as interested in bugs and plants and such as he is, and after he loans her his copy of The Origin of Species, they take to exploring together.  And they discover a previously unknown species of plant, which quite frankly is about the most exciting thing that happens in this book.

I guess maybe that was my problem – this book was well written, and interesting, but eh.  Nothing much happened, and after all was said and done, it was more than a tidge boring.  Worse, though, it reminded me SO much of Caddie Woodlawn.  I am hopeful that the coincidental similarities are just that, coincidences, but really.  Callie/ Caddie?  Lots of brothers?  A mother who wants her to sew and an 11 year old daughter who wants nothing to do with such things?  Lots of outside adventures in a rural ish area in the 1800’s?  Yeah.   Let’s just say that as soon as I was done with Calpurnia, I dug my battered copy of Caddie Woodlawn out of the bookshelf and you can say what you want about it, but it’s far far far from boring.  I don’t think the similarities between the two books are going to do The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate any favors, I really don’t.

Should you read it?:  Eh.  If you want.  It’s not a bad book, just not that exciting.  But if you haven’t read Caddie Woodlawn, I highly recommend that you do.


3 Responses

  1. I love you for loving Caddie Woodlawn.

    Also, now I’m thinking I’ll skip this book.

  2. Umm, did you just read a biography of my life growing up in the U.P.?
    I am going to skip Calpurnia Tate and go find Caddie Woodlawn asap.

  3. […] The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate – Just read Caddie […]

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