There are characters every kid should meet early in their reading life. Scout Finch, Laura Ingalls, Ramona Quimby, to name a few. Well, I didn't get to meet Calpurnia Tate until I was thirty, but you can be sure I will introduce her to my daughter much sooner!
"The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate" is the story of an almost-twelve-year-old (as she says) growing up on a prosperous cotton plantation. She is surrounded by brothers and a rather mysterious grandfather, who spends his days doing science experiments and attempting to turn pecans into a palatable drink. When she finally connects with him, Calpurnia finds her world blossoming with new experiences and possibilities.
The book deals with a lot of history and ideas, such as the struggle to adjust to life after the Civil War and the role of women in society. It celebrates the idea that girls have just as much a place in society as boys do, a lesson we all would do well to teach our daughters. It also does a great job of framing the struggle so many of us face with the now infamous work-life balance. Calpurnia is already encountering it in her young years.
All in all, this was a lovely story and Calpurnia made for a fun and lovable heroine. I will say that I was disappointed to discover there was a sequel to this book, as I find these kind of narratives do better as stand alones (see "To Kill a Mockingbird" as the prime example), but I am curious to see how the characters grow and evolve with time, so I will definitely be picking up #2 and hoping for the best.
Read this book if: You love the characters I mentioned above, smart girls (or boys) with a ton of potential and a healthy dose of mischief in their personalities
Don't read this book if: YA isn't your thing, or historical fiction...or if you demand perfection from your HF (the author makes a point of saying that she was inaccurate with historical and scientific facts in several places, which I found to be a bit disappointing)