100 Chapter Books Project: The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate


I think I have just finished a book that will end up being in my personal Top Ten of the entire Top 100 Chapter Books Project. It was only #66 on the actual list but I hope that is because more people haven’t read it yet. The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly actually caught my eye right when it came out in 2009 (I was already volunteering in the school library then). But, TBR lists being what they are, I just never got to it. I think I was meant to read it now though because, after the disaster that Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret turned out to be, I needed to read a book for girls on the cusp of womanhood that could inspire them to use their brains for tasks other than just for being overly concerned about feminine products, breast growth and kissing.

What it’s about: Calpurnia Virginia Tate, or Callie Vee for short, lives in Texas at the last turn of the century. She has three older brothers and three younger ones and they live on a pecan farm.  It’s a terribly hot summer and, one day, she has a question about the grasshoppers that she sees in the yard. She gets up the courage to go ask her prickly grandfather about them since he’s a naturalist and his answer is, on first inspection, not very helpful. But his answer was actually the perfect one to inspire her to begin observing and studying nature and even to aspire to a future that not many women of the time chose.

Age level: Grade 5-7

Best part: Every damn thing.

Worst part: Absolutely nothing.

Verdict: Buy

I loved this book SO SO SO SO much. I honestly can’t think of a single moment when I wasn’t enjoying it completely. I wish I had marked some passages and taken notes as I read because there were so many small, wonderful parts that all added up to make this a stellar story. Calpurnia’s relationships with her grandfather, with her eldest brother, Harry, and even with her youngest brother, J.B., all taught her different aspects of growing up and of taking responsibility for herself and others. I think that Calpurnia would have become an amazing woman because she learned all of the right things.

Z and I were reading The Hobbit together before school ended but then late nights kept us from having reading time together through the summer. I anticipate finishing the book with him starting next week when he goes back to school. I can’t wait!


Schedule – September through November

note: dates are not necessarily set in stone – posts may go up a day or two before or after

September 15 – #14 The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (1938)

September 30 – Project Update – Two Years In!

October 15 – #79 The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder (1967)

October 31 – #48 The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket (1999)

November 15 – #21 The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster (1961)

November 30 – #62 Clementine by Sara Pennypacker (2006)

RIP IX Readalong: The Haunting of Hill House

“No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.” –first paragraph

It’s almost that time! Carl’s RIP IX event is just around the corner, and The Estella Society is back with special guest, Amanda from Fig and Thistle, and another festive fall readalong. This time we’re reading the classic novella, The Haunting of Hill House, by Shirley Jackson.



Sign ups “officially” begin September 1, 2014, but we’re fudging a bit and making them available now. We will actually discuss the book on October 1, 2014, so you have a month to get this slim volume finished.

We will post some discussion questions here on October 1, but feel free to write your own blog post, using our questions or not, and link up beginning that day. And if you’re in the mood to Tweet about it, use the #ripix hashtag!