Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

evolution I’m embarrassed to say that I just got around to reading this year’s Newbery winner.  What an unusual book!  I will just tell you that I am not happy with the ending though.  Calpurnia Tate is unlucky enough to be growing up during a time (1899) when young ladies are expected to be interested in all the things that will make them good wives and mothers: cooking, sewing, knitting, darning; and not the things that will make them good scientists: evolution, the natural world, the scientific method and how to distill whiskey from pecans.  Calpurnia is the only girl in a family of 6 boys, and during the summer just before she turns 12, just as she discovers that the grandfather she’s always been so afraid of is a home-grown scientist who welcomes her company and help in his scientific endeavors, her mother decides that it’s time for her to really buckle down and learn the arts of housewifery.  Most of the book moves along happily enough, with entertaining tales of her exploits with her grandfather and funny stories about her brothers, but as I got closer to the end I kept waiting for the moment when Calpurnia would be saved from the life that was expected of her.  She bravely asks her oldest brother if he will help her if she wants to go to university, and asks her grandfather if women can’t be scientists too, but it’s pretty clear that although you, the reader, can hope for a different outcome, it isn’t very likely.  And for a character that I grew so fond of, that’s not a satisfactory ending for me.  Review by Stacy Church

No comments: