I found out about the book from Sophie, one of the children’s librarians at the local branch where I volunteer. Sophie was always recommending great YA novels for me to read, knowing I was a writer. One day, she said to me, “There’s this book that I think you should read. It’s not YA, it’s middle grade, but it’s being talked about for the Newbery, and it is soooo well-written.” (It ended up winning a Newbery Honor.)
I was instantly hooked by this book, which is the story of a young girl at the dawn of the 20th century who has a passion for science. The story is mainly about her relationship with her eccentric grandfather, but it also touches on many other aspects of Calpurnia’s life in her small rural Texas town, including her relationships with her many brothers. I was only about a third of the way in when I started recommending it to other people, from writers to friends who like reading good books for any age, to people I knew with kids old enough to enjoy the book.
As Sophie promised, the writing was soooo good, with a lot of smart humor and truly memorable scenes you just want to reread again and again. Kelly brings the characters and world to life so vividly that it’s like you’ve been transported there. It’s the kind of book that I couldn’t wait to get back to each night – yet with each page I’d experience a pang of sadness, knowing I was that much closer to the end. It’s that kind of book.
I used a quote from the novel for my first “Quote of the Month” on this blog (and also posted it on Facebook, where it got some cheers). Here it is:
"Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really."
I think that just about says it all.
As part of the blog chain, you can find another great book by visiting Kristi Helvig's blog, and from that blog will be yet another link, etc. To see the entire list of authors and titles cheered by the Spread the Awesome crew, visit Elana Johnson’s post – and you’ll have your summer reading list!