Imagine a girl who perfectly embodies the spirit of inquisitive youth; a precocious girl who could simultaneously be your little sister or your childhood best friend – That girl is Calpurnia Tate.
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly first came to my attention in 2009 when every single book industry person I knew systematically told me how charming and lovely a book it was (and is). I read the book and completely agreed with everything that I had heard. Calpurnia is a charming narrator, an adventurous, spirited 12-year-old girl who bursts forth from every page. Recently I acquired an ARC of the upcoming sequel, The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate, and read it this week. Like its predecessor it’s completely charming. And wonderful. And so much fun. And full of heart and depth. And did I mention wonderful?
Calpurnia has a fondness for the natural sciences, for pursuing knowledge in all of its simplest forms. Her grandfather has instilled in her a love of the many micro-worlds around her and she likes nothing more than surveying animals and weather and the stars and learning how everything works. To that end, Calpurnia acquires a pet newt named Sir Isaac Newton, helps her brother rescue a potentially dangerous armadillo (and a raccoon, and a half-breed coyote dog), and resists all of her mother’s attempts to civilize her. But Calpurnia is growing up and she encounters a number of injustices that befall her gender in 1900 Texas – unfair wages, second-guessing, underestimation, bigotry, and single-minded expectations. Why play piano and learn the domestic arts only to be married off when the entirety of nature can be observed under a microscope? How can sewing and knitting even compete with Calpurnia’s attention when there is data to be recorded?
Told in a series of vignettes each more enchanting than the last, The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate succeeds in matching its predecessor’s footsteps. It’s sweet and funny and soulful and heartfelt. It’s exactly the type of book that you open on a whim and finish four hours later beaming from ear to ear. I love these books. I love Calpurnia’s viable wit, her brimming point of view and her vivacious perspicacity. I would be happy if Kelly wrote ten more books from Calpurnia’s view-point. Seeing another year in her life is simply not enough. I want to see her grow into womanhood with all of her cheek and substance and merriment intact.
This is the series you buy your young, precocious girl who think’s she knows it all. This is your new Anne of Green Gables. If you are a fan of easy, fun historic fiction with a winning, passionate heroine, then Calpurnia is your girl.
I love these books. I can’t stress that enough. More Calpurnia, please!
5,000 out of 5 stars.
* The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate release July 7th, 2015.
– Follow the Reader –