Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Children's Classics ::: The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate

This month starts a new Children's Classic series with 5 Minutes for Books where you are invited to read current and past Newberry, Caldecott, and Coretta Scott King award winners. (Books that got an honorable mention are also okay!) I'm excited about this - there are so many books on these lists. Many that I have read and a LOT that I haven't. I'm excited about exploring several of these for myself and to possibly add to my shelves for my girls.

The Evolution of Calpurnia TateThe first book that I chose was a winner! The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly was one of the 2010 Honor books. Calpurnia (or Callie as she is known to her six brothers) is about to turn 12 as the year turns to 1900 in the small, dusty town in Texas where she lives. Callie is curious about life - she loves to explore outside and observe nature and her eccentric scientist grandfather takes her under his wings. He teaches her about observation and how to study what is around her with great detail using a microscope. Such interests of Callie's are most unusual for a girl in 1899 ... her mother definitely thinks she should be more concerned with her piano lessons or learning household tasks instead of spending time with her nose buried in books or off on excursions with Grandfather.

This books paints a great portrait of what life would have been like in a small cotton town at the turn of the century. We see the telephone come to this small town and hear about a new book that turning everyone on their ear: The Origin of Species by a Mr. Charles Darwin. (Never fear ... this book does not delve into the evolutionary theory of Darwin, but spends what little time on Darwin talking about his observation and study of nature. It was fascinating for me read as someone who knows very little about Darwin).

I think this would be a great book to hand over to your 10, 11, 12 year old and let them see what life would have been like for them over 100 years ago. I think, especially if you are a parent (homeschooling or not) who has a love of incorporating nature study into your childrens' lives, this is a fascinating look at nature study and how simple powers of observation are really all you need.

Excellent book. I will hopefully be adding this to our shelves for our girls down the road.

For more award winning books (and reviews) head over to Five Minutes for Books

Past Children's Classics posts:
A.A. Milne
Beatrix Potter (specifically, the Tale of Jemima Puddleduck)
Make Way for Ducklings
The Little House
Ella the Elephant & The Boy Who Was Raised by Librarians (Future Children's Classics)
Henry Reed's Journey (travel theme)
Island of the Blue Dolphins


  1. This is the book I chose for this challenge, too, and I didn't get it finished. Sigh.

    I'm really enjoying it too, though. :-)

  2. Oh, I'm so glad that you wrote about this! I haven't been sure about the Darwin aspect but I keep seeing the book all over the place and have been tempted to pick it up a time or two. Glad to know you liked it. I'll snatch it next time I see it!

  3. Here's another book that I've been *meaning* to read for a while, but just hasn't made it off the TBR list yet. I wonder if my son would want to read it... he's getting to an age where he prefers male lead characters, but I can sometimes convince him if it's a REALLY good book. :)

  4. Oops--I just tried to comment, but my google account messed up -- but if two come through that's why.

    I appreciate this review because I have been wanting to read it since it started getting all the buzz (even before it was made a Newbery Honor book).


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