Set in a sweltering hot, small Texas town during the second half of 1899 at the dawning of a new century, this is the story of Calpurnia Tate, or Callie Vee to most everyone who knows her. She is a girl aged 11¾, or she would say, 12 in all practicality.
Callie Vee is the only daughter in a prosperous farming family consisting of three older brothers and three younger ones. Since it is summer at the outset, Callie helps with some of the household chores and takes piano lessons, but for the most part has some free time to look around her and look she does. Callie seems most interested in nature and is initially encouraged by her oldest and most favorite brother Harry when he offers her a notebook to write down her observations.
When she overhears a conversation about Charles Darwin's work on The Origin of the Species, she sets out to get a copy of the book from the local librar,y only to be dissuaded by a disapproving librarian who says she has to have 50 cents to borrow it from the central library in Austin and her mother's written permission. Furious and embarrassed by this turn of events, Callie finds an unlikely ally in her Granddaddy Tate who since his retirement from the farm operation has himself turned to scholarly and scientific pursuits.
Even though she didn't even think her Grandfather noticed her or even knew her name, he indeed took notice of her curiosity and even gave her an appreciation of her real name, Calpurnia. When she told him of her experience with the town libraria,n he even presented her with his own copy of The Origin of the Species.
Thus marks the beginning of a grand friendship between Calpurnia and her Granddaddy and through their shared pursuits a great questioning of what is possible for a young girl at the dawn of a new era.
Recommended by Cheryl Finnan