The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

I received this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I enjoyed reading The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate a couple of years ago, so when I received an opportunity to read The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate, I was very excited.

The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate is a middle grade novel written by Jacqueline Kelly. The story begins in the spring of 1900, only a couple of months after the end of The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate. Callie is still determined to become a scientist, and she spends as much time as possible with her grandfather. When Callie is not working with her grandfather, she is playing with her younger brother Travis. Travis is gentler than the other boys, and cannot help put take pity on the foundling animals he finds. Callie knows that it cannot possibly be a good idea to bring home an armadillo or a baby raccoon, but she has trouble saying no to her kind brother. Travis is heartbroken when their attempts at domesticating the animals don’t work out, but Callie approaches things from a scientific perspective and tries to remain impartial.

When Callie sees a strange bird in the yard, she tells her grandfather. She is shocked by his panicked reaction; Grandfather insists that the appearance of a seagull two hundred miles inland can only mean that a massive storm is headed for Texas. Grandfather tries to send telegrams and place telephone calls (an exorbitant expense) to warn Galveston, but the warnings arrive too late. Callie’s father and oldest brother depart for Galveston to aid in the recovery, and when they return, they bring Dr. Pritzker, a veterinarian and Callie’s cousin Aggie. Callie is excited by the prospect of another girl in the house, but Aggie proves to be aloof and disinterested in Callie.

Callie is much more interested in winning the approval of the Dr. Pritzker, but he is skeptical about the potential of a mere girl. Callie remains steadfast in her goals, and is determined to prove herself to everyone. She reiterates her desire to go to college- and not just to get a teaching certificate, but so that she can become a scientist.

This was a wonderful book. I loved it just as much, if not more than the first book in the series. Callie is a delightful protagonist. She is clever, and witty. I loved her observations about her life on the farm. I loved her interactions with Travis, and his earnest efforts to have a pet of his very own, no matter how unsuitable the animal might be about the arrangement.

Once again, my heart broke for Callie when she was treated unfairly just because of her gender. She wants nothing more than validation; she receives it from her grandfather, who appreciates that one of his grandchildren has a natural aptitude for the sciences. Callie works hard to prove that she is capable of contributing to the scientific world.

I would absolutely recommend The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate. It’s not necessary to read The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate before this, but it really is worth reading, even if you read it after this book. Jacqueline Kelly is a talented author. She makes the farm in Texas come alive through Callie’s wholly original voice. I hope to read more of Calpurnia’s adventures in the future; she only becomes more charming as she gets older. I can’t wait to share this book with my daughters!

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