Review: The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate

The Evolution of Calpurnia TateThe Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

In this story, we meet Calpurnia Tate, or “Callie” as she is known in her family. At 11 years old, Callie finds herself more interested in the world outside the house than the one inside and after one of her many adventurous explorations of the outside world, happens to discover that her strange and aloof grandfather, who lives out back behind the house, shares her fascination with the natural world and the unusual creatures who live in it. When Callie’s investigations bring her to a conclusion as to why the yellow grasshoppers are more numerous and much larger than the green ones in the surrounding fields, she must overcome the social restrictions of 1899 Texas to bring her scientific findings to the attention of the one society that might actually value them. Natural selection and Darwin’s theories are discussed and examined to help readers understand how Callie comes to her own conclusions in the story.

Henry Holt & Co. (BYR) (2009)

ISBN 9780805088410

Price: $12.00

Quantitative: Lexile Level: 830; ATOS 5.3

Qualitative: A story for Low/Middle Grades (4-8). historical context and themes involve family dynamics and the historic role of women and girls in the U.S. The science described and incorporation of historical figures woven into the story make it fun and authentic.

Content Area: English; Science – Method; Evolution

Common Core Standards: RL.5.1, RL.5.3, RL.6.3, RL.6.6

Additional/Digital Content:  Neo K-12 resources and media:

Literary Awards: Newbery Honor (2010), Bank Street College of Education Josette Frank Award (2010), Audie Award for Children’s for Ages 8-12 (2011), Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children’s Book Award Nominee (2011), IRA Children’s and Young Adult’s Book Award for Intermediate–Fiction (2010)

Annotation: Can one girl’s curiosity about the wonders of the natural world around her, fueled by the eccentric and sometimes obsessive musings of her oddball grandfather, really mean anything to the scientists of her time? Can one little girl really make any difference? Calpurnia Tate learns that evolution takes on many forms, whether through natural selection or personal growth and experience, the world around us is always changing and it is better to be part of it than turn a blind eye.


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