booksinckids's blog

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate

This is the best middle reader historical fiction that I’ve read in years.  As a girl growing up at the end of the 19th century, Callie doesn’t feel like she has any control over the path her life will take; the only girl in a house full of brothers, she is all too aware that her future is full of cooking, cleaning, sewing, and raising children.  But what Callie loves more than anything is observing nature and conducting scientific experiments.  Fortunately, Callie finds an ideal companion and mentor who shares and nurtures her interest in science- her grandfather.

Each chapter begins with a quote from Darwin’s Origin of Species, mirroring Callie’s own “evolution” and the awakening of her ambition.  The characters are smart and endearing, and I love Callie’s touching relationship with her grandfather.  This Newbery Honor book is a must-read if you missed it the first time around.
 
-Caitlin, one of four Children's Lit experts from our Palo Alto Store 

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Wonder by R. J. Palacio (ages 10& up)

This is one of those books that you know is going to be special from the very first page.  Starting middle school is hard, even harder for Auggie who’s been home schooled due to a rare genetic disorder that has given him a misshapen head and face that earned him nicknames like Freddy Krueger, he’s grown used to people adverting their eyes when they see him (I was terrified for him).  But Auggie feels normal inside, he is obsessed with Star Wars, loves his Dog, and is surrounded by an amazing family that I secretly want to be a part of. What follows is an extraordinary debut novel told from not only Auggie’s perspective but his sister & other people around him whose lives have changed from his attendance at school.  Both touching and funny this is a story about courage and friendship that will melt your heart.

 

--Shannon, Senior Children's Book Buyer for Books Inc.

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