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. This historical young adult novel was the recipient of a 2010 Newbery Honor Award and the winner of the 2010 Bank Street-Josette Frank Award.Having already read about a third of this book, I've found some intriguing passages to share. This first one should appeal to all readers. Calpurnia, known to her family as Callie, is an avid reader who tries to borrow Darwin's Origin of Species from her library, a book that is NOT approved by her librarian. "I wouldn't keep such a thing in my library," she tells Callie (p. 14). When she gets home, Callie tells herself:
"One day I would have all the books in the world, shelves and shelves of them. I would live my life in a tower of books. I would read all day long and eat peaches. And if any young knights in armor dared to come calling on their white chargers and plead with me to let down my hair, I would pelt them with peach pits until they went home" (p.16).She's my kind of protagonist, so I kept reading. Another quote I want to share is about her schooling. Her grandfather, the avid naturalist mentioned above, has said he doesn't understand the modern educational system at all (p. 103):
That reminded me of a cartoon I ran across, which I've added for your edification and enjoyment. Nobody, of course, would have dressed this way in 1899.
Granddaddy said, "I find that actually reading the book is a much more effective way of absorbing it." I laughed. I'd have to tell Lula that one.
One day, after learning about the huge 45-pound catfish living at the bottom of her river and seeing tiny squirmy things in the water drop she put under the microscope, Callie no longer wanted to go swimming there.
"It was too bad, but sometimes a little knowledge could ruin your whole day, or at least take off some of the shine" (p. 111).
Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire @ The Captive Reader and Linda @ Silly Little Mischief that encourages us to name the books we checked out of the library. Click here to see what others got this week.