Book Review: The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate
By Jacqueline Kelly
Callie Vee, Travis, Granddaddy, and the whole Tate clan are back in this charming follow-up to Newbery Honor–winner The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate.
Callie’s younger brother Travis keeps bringing home strays. And Callie has her hands full keeping the animals—Travis included—away from her mother’s critical eye.
When a storm blows change into town in the form of a visiting veterinarian, Callie discovers a life and a vocation she desperately wants. But with societal expectations as they are, she will need all her wits and courage to realize her dreams.
Whether it’s wrangling a rogue armadillo or stray dog, a guileless younger brother or standoffish cousin, the trials and tribulations of Callie Vee will have readers cheering for this most endearing heroine. (Courtesy of Goodreads.com )
Adult Point of View
In The Evolution of Caluprnia Tate the focus of the story was Callie Vee’s relationship with her grandfather and her discovery of herself as she observed the natural world. It was a coming of age story. I feel like Callie Vee stalled in The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate. She still has a special relationship with her grandfather. She still has too many annoying brothers. And, she is still misunderstood by her parents. So, what was missing?
The moment of discovery for Calpurnia happens in the beginning when she finds a sea gull hundreds of miles from the ocean. The tell tale sign of the sea gull was the oncoming hurricane that devastated Galveston in 1900. Callie Vee starts lessons on anatomy with her grandfather through dissecting animals, starting with a worm. Callie Vee continues to be curious about the world around her, but her granddaddy is in the background and rarely crops up.
Callie Vee has a good relationship with her brother Travis, who loves animals. It was a little confusing if the focus of the book was on Callie Vee or Travis. It seemed like we needed more about Travis if this was to become a coming of age story about him. I felt a bit let down that Callie Vee didn’t make more progress in her personal growth. Her family continues to treat her as a second class citizen.
At the dinner table Callie Vee is in trouble:
“I kept my head down and waited for conversation to resume. For the moment, camouflage and mimicry of the well-behaved daughter for called for.” (p. 108)
A moment learning about navigation from the stars with Granddaddy:
“So no matter where in the world you are, no matter how lost you may be, these stars will guide you home. Sailors have always considered them lucky; this is where we get the expression ‘to thank one’s lucky stars.'” (p.231)
There are still enjoyable bits in the book and I enjoyed it, even though it didn’t hold the same magical quality I felt in the first. I still recommend it if you enjoyed The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate.
3.75 out of 5 stars