It was winter of 2011 when I first met Jacqueline Kelly’s Calpurnia Tate. I had owned the book for at least a year, but for some reason I hadn’t picked it up to read. Once I did, I could immediately think of so many students who needed to meet Calpurnia – a girl at the turn of the century (1899) that had a burning curiosity and desire to learn. Unfortunately she is living during a time when girls are not expected to have a job outside of the home and certainly not expected to go to school as long as a boy. Calpurnia’s grandfather sees her thirst for knowledge and knows it from his own. They develop a relationship of teacher and student that is at the heart of the book.
Although the first book, The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate had a satisfying conclusion, I was left wondering what would happen to Calpurnia. How grateful I was to find out that there was a sequel being released this summer and I would get to return to Calpurnia’s world. The sequel is called The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate and it will be released on July 7th.
In this second book revolving around Calpurnia, we return to her home, filled with Calpurnia, her brothers, her parents, Viola the cook, and Calpurnia’s grandfather. We examine life in 1900 in Texas. I felt there was more to Calpurnia in this book – you saw her away from Grandfather, interacting with her siblings, a cousin that moves in, a veterinarian that moves to town. I grew to love Calpurnia and wondered what would become of her as she grew up in this time. When the end of the book came, it was at once satisfying and left me hoping that Kelly will write a third book for Calpurnia, and soon.
It was also fascinating to read this book shortly after devouring Anita Silvey’s new Jane Goodall biography, Untamed. I couldn’t help but think that Goodall and Calpurnia would have made fast friends. I think this would be a perfect pairing for any of my young students who want to study a modern day Calpurnia Tate. Take some time this summer to get to know Calpurnia, through book one and book two. I bet that once you do, you will think of many students who would want to meet her too.