About the Book: 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.
My Two Cents: There is so much to love about this book. Gorgeous language that challenges young readers without overwhelming them. A smart, endearing main character who grows so much. Humor and family and a great sense of history. And lots of science, carefully woven through the book so that it doesn’t hold the story back–it actually drives it forward. When my daughters are old enough, I will absolutely read this with them. Lots to learn, lots to discuss.
Grade level: 5-7 (some challenging vocabulary)
Jacqueline Kelly’s website
Discussion questions from the publisher
An in-depth Novel Study (for purchase)
Charles Darwin links for teachers and kids
More to Read:
Another smart, strong heroine figuring out her family: Ida B by Katherine Hannigan
Another brave, lonely girl who finds herself in nature: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
More on Charles Darwin (nonfiction): Charles and Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith by Deborah Heiligman
Be sure to out this great science activity from biologist Helen Boswell that fits perfectly with this book!