WHAT A DELIGHT! ‘The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate’


I could be sticking out my neck here … maybe novels for young people like this one are written in Australia and I just haven’t read them yet … BUT, why, oh why don’t we see children’s novels like ‘The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate‘ being published here as well, like the United States do so well?

Written by SCBWI Austin author (a Kiwi), Jacqueline Kelly and published in the US, it’s intriguing, powerful, brilliantly written with a protagonist whose voice rings with truth. I love Calpurnia’s scientific explorations and her insightful observations of the restrictive society of 1899, and her relationship with family, community, science and Charles Darwin. A girl after my own heart!

Not a fantasy, not an adventure, not formulaic like some of the Australian children’s books published nowadays. No blindly following the cult of ‘beginning, middle and end’, something totally different that requires a publisher to TAKE A RISK – if only!!

And what a talent is Jacqueline Kelly. Do yourself a favour – borrow it from the library!!! Or from Amazon … it’s going cheap.

Calpurnia Virginia Tate is eleven years old in 1899 when she wonders why the yellow grasshoppers in her Texas backyard are so much bigger than the green ones.With a little help from her notoriously cantankerous grandfather, an avid naturalist, she figures out that the green grasshoppers are easier to see against the yellow grass, so they are eaten before they can get any larger. As Callie explores the natural world around her, she develops a close relationship with her grandfather, navigates the dangers of living with six brothers, and comes up against just what it means to be a girl at the turn of the century’s restrictive society. 

Debut author Jacqueline Kelly deftly brings Callie and her family to life, capturing a year of growing up with unique sensitivity and a wry wit.
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate is a 2010 Newbery Honor Book and the winner of the 2010 Bank Street – Josette Frank Award.


2 thoughts on “WHAT A DELIGHT! ‘The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate’

  1. I do like the sound of this novel … a girl with an inquiring mind … Cheers, Karen Tyrrell 🙂


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