Welcome to The Book Guardians!

We sincerely hope that this site is a blessing to you, and that it will help you in deciding which books are a good fit for your family!

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Proverbs 4:23

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate

by Jacqueline Kelly
illustrated by NA

Religious/Secular Content : It talks about Darwin's theory of evolution and makes no arguments about it; mentions religion, church, Bible but not God. Fairly secular.
Adult Content : Does talk a bit about courting, crushes, kissing.
Mature Topics : Instance of referring to photographs from the Civil War, describes a bit; one girl has a brother that is 'addled', describes him briefly in one part of the book; amputation is described (the experience, not the procedure) as well as burning the appendages later. Calpurnia wonders about seeing a dead body.
Strong/Inappropriate Language : There are a few words, 'darn' and pi**.
Magic/Witchcraft : No
Disrespect/Rebellion : Yes; Calpurnia backtalks a few times. She also meddles where she shouldn't in her brother's affairs and it causes some strife in the family.
Drug/Alcohol Use : Yes; Calpurnia's grandfather drinks a few times and is trying to make pecan alcohol; he gives it to Calpurnia, who is 11 at the time, as well as offers it to her again later. Calpurnia's mother also drinks a tonic that is 20% alcohol for headaches. There is wine at the holidays.
Violence/Abuse : The piano teacher thwacks Calpurnia's knuckles. Two brothers have a scuffle over a girl. One of Calpurnia's brothers pinches her to try to get her in trouble.
Educational Value : Yes; many scientific names and descriptions.
Positive/Negative Message : Neutral. More positive.

This is a great book. Those who are interested in nature study will enjoy the theme throughout this book. 

It takes place in 1899 to the New Year of 1900 in a smallish Texas town. Calpurnia, or Callie Vee to most of her family and friends, is 11 3/4 years old and the only girl. Her oldest brother, Harry, dotes on her and she is his 'own pet'. He starts her love of science (and nature) by giving her a nature journal to write down all she sees. 

At first she writes down very little but through the book she progresses to more detail descriptions. We are only given a glimpse into what she wrote a few times and later it is only the questions she is pondering that we know she writes in her journal. When she comes upon a strange occurrence, she asks anyone she can what it means. No one knows and really no one seems to care. 

Someone either tells her to go as Granddaddy or she decides to ask him herself. He is someone that most of the kids are afraid of. He doesn't talk much and when he does most of the adults just humor him because he is old. Calpurnia is just afraid. When she finally does get the nerve to ask him, he tells her to figure it out. Not much help, huh? 

But it is! After that, she starts asking the real questions that will help her find the answers. When she comes to the answer herself, she tells Granddaddy- and their relationship blooms from there.

There is a lot of humor in this but some may be 'naughty' humor, I suppose. Granddaddy gives Calpurnia some pecan alcohol that he is trying to perfect and although it's a shock, I'll bet Calpurnia never drank again! He also teaches her the words to pirate and sea chanteys with 'naughty' words. 

In Calpurnia's time, women were to stay home and had to know how to cook, sew, knit, etc. Calpurnia doesn't want to do that but is torn between what is expected of her and her gender and what she actually wants to do. 

Very good book that I think kids and parents will enjoy. If it were a read-aloud it would quite easy to skip the few parts that are possibly 'objectionable'.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Phillipians 4:8