October 28, 2009 at 7:41 pm Leave a comment

TATEFeisty, 11 year old Calpurnia Virginia (Callie Vee) Tate lives in rural Texas in 1899.  Unlike other girls her age, she has no interest in tackling the womanly pursuits of sewing, cooking, lace-making and knitting. In fact, her efforts inevitably end with disastrous results. Instead, Callie would rather explore the flora and fauna of the family’s 600 acres with her grandfather, an amateur naturalist. Together, they collect specimens and record their observations in a notebook given to Callie by her beloved older brother, Harry.

The theme of each chapter is represented by a quote from Darwin’s The Origin of Species, a book that plays a large role in this story. Callie’s interest in this “controversial” book is noted by her grandfather, who, to her delight, gives her a copy to study. Her grandfather also educates her in the scientific method and tells her about women who have become famous scientists. Boosted by her grandfather’s encouragement, Callie may yet be able to withstand her family’s expectations to enter society, find a suitable beau, marry and have children. Maybe she will have the fortitude to fight for her dream of going to university to study science instead.

Many entertaining episodes leave the reader chuckling:

  • Callie’s animal loving younger brother Travis, who gets too attached to the turkeys meant for Thanksgiving dinner
  • 3 of Callie’s brothers falling in love with her best friend, Lula
  • Callie’s annoyance at Harry’s courtship of a vain, insipid bore

This is a great cross-over novel, especially for those girls who don’t fit into their family’s or society’s expectations.

 J-Fiction Highly Recommended, Marci Dressler- Ossining


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DAUGHTERS OF THE SEA: HANNAH by Kathryn Lasky (Scholastic 2009) THE KING OF QUIZZICAL ISLAND by Gordon Snell and illustrated by David McKee (Candlewick Press 1978, 2009)

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