Kelly, Jacqueline. 2009. THE EVOLUTION OF CALPURNIA TATE. New York: Henry Holt. ISBN 9780805088410. [Suggested Grade Levels 5- 9]
It is summer 1899, and Calpurnia Tate lives in the meltingly hot Texas town of Fentress with her parents, six brothers, and her cantankerous grandfather. Callie Vee, as she calls herself, is an observer and, according to her favorite brother Harry, a budding naturalist. Having grown up listening to her grandfather and the minister debate Darwin’s THE ORIGIN OF THE SPECIES, Callie decides she wants to read the book and heads to the library. Much to her surprise, the librarian says she “wouldn’t keep such a thing in my library.” Fuming, she heads home and finds out that her grandfather owns an autographed copy of the book.
This begins a great friendship and adventure between Callie Vee and her grandfather as the two of them set out to find proof of Darwin’s theory. Interspersed between their adventures is a wonderful portrait of life in turn-of-the-century small town Texas. Harry falls in love, there is a disastrous piano recital, school starts, and it actually snows. This gentle book is a Newbery Honor Book that is well suited to the middle grade reader.
This would be a great novel to use with Texas history as it paints a portrait of everyday life.
Use this book as a companion to an introduction of the theory of evolution in a science class.
Other books about Darwin:
Heligman, Deborah. CHARLES AND EMMA. ISBN 9780805087215
Lasky, Kathryn. ONE BEATLE TOO MANY: THE EXTRAORDINARY ADVENTURES OF CHARLES DARWIN. ISBN 9780763614362
Schanzer, Rosalyn. WHAT DARWIN SAW: THE JOURNEY THAT CHANGED THE WORLD. ISBN 9781426303968
Sis, Peter. THE TREE OF LIFE: CHARLES DAWIN. ISBN 9780374456283
By Janet Hilbun