Calpurnia Tate is a curious and inquisitive girl in a rural Texas family full of brothers growing up in 1899. Spying a different type of grasshopper, she starts making observations and asking questions about animals and bugs that she can't answer. Trying to get Darwin's book, The Origin of Species, proves impossible for a girl in a traditional community, so she braves visiting her elusive Grandaddy for information. Callie's loving story of a budding scientific relationship with her Grandaddy and the trials of living with 6 brothers is nothing compared to her desires for a life in conflict with the vision of women in early 18th century. Forced into kitchen and knitting duties, Callie feels dismal about her restricted future involving a husband and running a household. Why can't girls achieve what they want to?
Filled with realistic references to life during that time (the arrival of a telephone and a view of the first "auto-mobile"), this book is a rich tale of one girl's coming of age in a boy's world. When Calpurnia's Grandaddy has another successful failure at making liquor out of pecans, he states "that we should celebrate today's failure because it is a clear sign that our voyage of discovery is not yet over." The day the experiment succeeds is the day the experiment ends. With a moving ending, Callie's experience with life is still just beginning.
Recommended by Allison Holbrook