The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate and The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate is a 2 book series written by Jacqueline Kelly.
Both of these books are 5 stars and an excellent read for late elementary aged children, especially girls.
Synopsis of The Evolution (from Goodreads): 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.
Synopsis of The Curious World (from Goodreads): Callie’s younger brother Travis keeps bringing home strays. And Callie has her hands full keeping the animals—Travis included—away from her mother’s critical eye. When a storm blows change into town in the form of a visiting veterinarian, Callie discovers a life and a vocation she desperately wants. But with societal expectations as they are, she will need all her wits and courage to realize her dreams. Whether it’s wrangling a rogue armadillo or stray dog, a guileless younger brother or standoffish cousin, the trials and tribulations of Callie Vee will have readers cheering for this most endearing heroine.
I highly recommend this book for mid-late elementary-aged children. These books are educational and enjoyable. Kelly details a lot of basic scientific principles and uses an older vocabulary. I found myself stopping and asking my daughter (8 at the time) if she knew the meaning of some words. We even did a few of the experiments, like a homemade barometer. The first book (Evolution) focuses on her relationship with her grandfather and how they both love science. Calpurnia uses her gifts and helps him in his laboratory. The second book (Curious World) focuses on her relationship with her brother with a gift of loving and caring for animals, which she helps him navigate. I would enjoy a third book in this series to continue watching Calpurnia Tate grow up. However, that doesn’t seem to be in the works at this time. Jacqueline Kelly instead has created a series of chapter books for younger children about Calpurnia Tate.
What to focus on with your child:
At a very young age, we all tend to think we are great at everything. As we age, we realize this is not true. Unfortunately, many of us begin comparing ourselves to others and we focus on areas of personal struggle. This is a great book to read and start the discussion of gifts your child has received from God. Especially if you want your child to focus on ways they can contribute to the world. These are your child’s Charisms. Calpurnia Tate knew her’s, and she desired to use them to help those around her. Charisms are gifts from the Holy Spirit. The most significant aspect of a Charism is that the gift is not for ourselves. Charisms are gifts that are intended for others or the needs of the world. We use our charisms for the common good and to build up the Church of Christ.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “Whether extraordinary or simple and humble, charisms are graces of the Holy Spirit which directly or indirectly benefit the Church, ordered as they are to her building up, to the good of men, and to the needs of the world” (CCC 799).
St. Paul really details this in 1 Cor 12:4-11 “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. To each individual, the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit. To one is given through the expression of wisdom; to another the expression of knowledge . . . to another faith . . . to another gifts of healing . . . to another mighty deeds; to another prophecy; to another discernment of spirits; to another varieties of tongues; to another interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit produces all of these, distributing them individually to each person as he wishes.” St. Paul continues to explain how together we make up the body of Christ. Just as each body part (eye, ear, hand, etc.) are important; each of us has our own role to play in making up the body of Christ.
Making a distinction between natural talents and charisms is essential. Here are the main differences:
Natural talents can be inherited. Charisms are not, they are unique gifts from the Holy Spirit (see CCC 798).
Natural talents can be used for evil. Charisms cannot as they are intended, “for the holiness of the entire Body of Christ” (see CCC 800).
Natural talents could be used for your own entertainment and are a special gift from God solely to you. Charisms are not gifts we use for ourselves, they are intended for the common good (see CCC 801).
What are your charisms? What about your child’s?