I absolutely loved the middle-grade novel The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate (Jacqueline Kelly, 2009, Henry Holt and Company) and recommend it to children and adults alike.
It’s the blistering summer of 1899 in rural Texas, and eleven-year-old Calpurnia Tate is having trouble resigning herself to the rigid roles prescribed for girls and women of the times. But when she unexpectedly develops a camaraderie with her curmudgeonly grandfather over their common appreciation of the natural world, Calpurnia’s life becomes more bearable. He shares his knowledge about the plant and insect world, as well as about famous woman scientists, opening up for her a whole new world. Just as importantly, her grandfather understands her when her parents don’t.
Jacqueline Kelly has a knack for turning everyday life into an engaging story, as Calpurnia’s budding ambitions steer her into a collision course with societal expectations. A heartwarming story of love, acceptance, and the triumph of the spirit. Calpurnia is a strong and unforgettable protagonist with a voice both poetic and delightfully humorous.