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The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate

Last updated Friday, November 2, 2018

Author: Jacqueline Kelly
Date of Publication: 2009
ISBN: 0805088415
Grade Level: 5th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Nov. 2018

Synopsis: Calpurnia Virginia Tate is eleven years old in 1899 when she wonders why the yellow grasshoppers in her Texas backyard are so much bigger than the green ones.With a little help from her notoriously cantankerous grandfather, an avid naturalist, she figures out that the green grasshoppers are easier to see against the yellow grass, so they are eaten before they can get any larger. As Callie explores the natural world around her, she develops a close relationship with her grandfather, navigates the dangers of living with six brothers, and comes up against just what it means to be a girl at the turn of the century. The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate is a 2010 Newbery Honor Book.

Note to readers:
•  Today is also College Spirit Day, so please talk to your group about college, share your college stories, and ask them what they think about college!

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  What do you think evolution means? (A process of slow change and development)
•  Do you think you've changed from when you started 4th grade to when you started 5th grade?
•  What changes do you think Calpurnia goes through?


•  Naturalist - a person who studies plants and animals as they live in nature
•  Poleaxed - to hit and knock down someone
•  Pestiferous - a pest or nuisance; annoying
•  Milliner - a person who designs, makes, or sells women's hats
•  Excelsior - softwood shavings used for packing fragile goods
•  Meander - to walk slowly without a specific goal, purpose, or direction

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  How many siblings do you have? Where do you fall (oldest, youngest, etc.)?
•  What do Calpurnia and her grandfather have in common?
•  Do you like to observe and explore your neighborhood?
•  What is you favorite thing about science?

Craft ideas:
•  Have kids pick an object in the classroom to observe. Have kids write their observations, and draw a picture of the object, using the scientific method template on Pinterest as a guide.
•  Check our craft ideas on Pinterest!

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!