From Newbery Honor author Jacqueline Kelly comes a third title in her illustrated chapter book series for younger readers featuring the beloved characters from The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate.
Out in their boat exploring the San Marcos River, Callie and Granddaddy see all kinds of naturefish, mockingbirds, ammonites, and more. But when Callie spots an owl in the water, she knows it's in trouble. With quick thinking and quick action, she and Granddaddy bring the bird aboardbut will they be able to save its life?
Don't miss the other books in the Calpurnia Tate, Girl Vet series:
Who Gives a Hoot?
Praise for Skunked!: Calpurnia Tate, Girl Vet:
“Expect a fresh crop of Calpurnia readers to simply enjoy this on its own considerable merits.” The Bulletin
“This is a great progression from the Lois Lowry books and Laura Ingalls Wilder’s ‘Little House’ books.” Children's Literature
"This engaging introductory chapter book contains the added benefit of introducing readers to science and nature terminology as well as a bit of Texas history. . . . Entertaining, humorous, and informative." School Library Journal, starred review on Skunked!: Calpurnia Tate, Girl Vet
Praise for The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate:
“Six years after debuting in Kelly's Newbery Honor-winning The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, the budding Texas scientist returns, as curious and charming as ever, and now preoccupied with fauna instead of flora . . . Happily, the episodic narrative leaves the door wide open for further adventuresif we're lucky.” Publishers Weekly, starred review on The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate
“Animal lovers will revel in the abundant anecdotes about the benevolent country vet and Travis' mangy strayssome heart-wrenching, some hilariouswhile learning plenty about nature ("from pond water up to the stars"), the deadly 1900 Galveston hurricane, and early Texas history as recounted by Callie's scholarly and beloved Granddaddy. A warm, welcome stand-alone companion to Kelly's lauded debut.” Kirkus Reviews, starred review on The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate
“Well worth waiting for . . . Readers will flock to this sequel” Booklist, starred review on The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate
“Humor and little heartbreaks abound as Callie learns animal care under the tutelage of Dr. Pritzker, the town's veterinarian. . . .” School Library Journal, starred review on The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate
Praise for The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate:
“The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate is the most delightful historical novel for tweens in many, many years. …Callie's struggles to find a place in the world where she'll be encouraged in the gawky joys of intellectual curiosity are fresh, funny, and poignant today.” The New Yorker, "Book Bench" section on The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate
“In her debut novel, Jacqueline Kelly brings to vivid life a boisterous small-town family at the dawn of a new century. And she especially shines in her depiction of the natural world that so intrigues Callie . . . Readers will want to crank up the A.C. before cracking the cover, though. That first chapter packs a lot of summer heat.” The Washington Post on The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate
About the Author
Jacqueline Kelly won the Newbery Honor for her first book, The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate. She was born in New Zealand and raised in Canada, in the dense rainforests of Vancouver Island. Her family then moved to El Paso, Texas, and Kelly attended college in El Paso, then went on to medical school in Galveston. After practicing medicine for many years, she went to law school at the University of Texas, and after several years of law practice, realized she wanted to write fiction. Her first story was published in the Mississippi Review in 2001. She now makes her home with her husband and various cats and dogs in Austin and Fentress, Texas.
Jennifer L. Meyer is an award-winning artist whose work has been featured multiple times in the Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art annual, Spectrum. Born into a fantasy-loving military family, she grew up a big fan of comics, reading, and drawing animals (especially bunnies). Jennifer's art has appeared in comic books, children's books, graphic novels, and other media. She is the illustrator of the Calpurnia Tate, Girl Vet series by Jacqueline Kelly.
Teagan White is a freelance illustrator who specializes in intricate drawings of flora and fauna. Originally from Chicago, Teagan now lives and works in Minnesota, where she received a BFA in illustration from the Minneapolis College of Art & Design in 2012. She is the cover artist for the Calpurnia Tate, Girl Vet series by Jacqueline Kelly.
Read an Excerpt
"Calpurnia," Granddaddy called up from the bottom of the stairs, "are you ready? The barometer predicts a fine day for us."
"Yessir! Coming!" I knew we could count on the barometer on the library wall; it was never wrong. I grabbed my butterfly net and ran downstairs at top speed. It was October 1, 1901, and we were going to spend the day floating down the San Marcos River in our boat. Now, "boat" makes it sound rather grand, but it was really only a leaky old rowboat barely big enough for the two of us and our gear. This was fine with me, as I didn't want any of my six brothers coming with us. Can you imagine being the only girl right in the middle of six brothers? Ugh, the burdens I have to bear.
Anyway, I called our vessel the Beagle in honor of the ship Mr. Darwin sailed in. For five years, he traveled around the world collecting fossils and bottled beasts and dried flowers from far-off lands. Granddaddy was the captain of our Beagle, which was only fitting, as he was older than me and had also been a captain during the War Between the States. His job as captain was to row, although he'd let me row if I wanted to. (Let me tell you, it's harder than it looks. The first time I tried it, I flipped straight over on my back like a click beetle.)
I was the first mate. My job was to scoop out the water that kept seeping into the bottom of the boat, threatening our equipment and our boots. This "bilgewater" kept me busy. I also took notes in my Scientific Notebook of the plants and animals — flora and fauna — we discussed on the way. One of the nicest things about a rowboat is that you sit facing each other, which makes it easy to talk.
Even though our vessel wasn't much to look at, and even though my bailing tool was only a rusty bucket, and even though the quiet river we floated along wasn't much more than a stream, I always felt we were setting off in a grand barque with three tall masts and yards of flapping sails, plunging through the white-tipped waves, the salt spray in our faces. And every one of our "voyages" was a grand adventure to parts unknown. Never mind that we had to turn around at the second bridge to make it home in time for dinner.
We untied our boat and set off. A few inches of mist hung above the water so that we seemed to be rowing through the clouds. Every now and then, a fish jumped and made a faint splash.
"Where shall we sail today, Calpurnia?"
I thought about it and said, "How about the Canary Islands? Or maybe Patagonia? What about Tasmania?"
"All fine destinations," he said, pulling on the oars. "I'll let you decide."
I was mulling it over, when suddenly a small, silvery fish leaped from the water and landed in the bottom of our boat.
"Look!" I said. I'd never seen this happen before, and I stared at the fish in surprise. It appeared to be a small perch or fountain darter. I grabbed at it, but twice it wriggled from my grasp. I got it on the third try and flipped it over the side, where it quickly swam away.
Granddaddy said, "Perhaps we should choose South America today. It was there that Darwin first saw flying fish. They do not actually fly by flapping their fins, but jump from the water at high speed and glide above it to escape predators. They can stay in the air for half a minute and travel amazing distances, several hundred yards at a time. It's quite a sight, especially when a whole school of them launch themselves at once."
"Then let's go to South America today in honor of our own flying fish," I said.
Granddaddy rowed, the oars creaked, and in between taking notes, I bailed water and imagined a whole bunch of flying fish skimming their way down the river, more like a flock of birds than a school of fish. That would be something.
Granddaddy hummed some Mozart, which he did when he was happy. It was a piece my piano teacher, Miss Brown, had forced me to learn, so I chimed in from time to time. We sounded quite good together. But then a mockingbird burst into joyful song and put our paltry human efforts to shame.
"Ah," said Granddaddy, "the Mimus polyglottos, or 'many-tongued mimic.' How lucky we are to have it sing us on our way."
The mockingbird lived up to its name by first running through imitations of the robin and blue jay and owl. Then it launched into songs of its own, wild and exuberant. If you've never heard a mockingbird, I hope you'll be lucky enough to hear one soon. It will mimic anything and everything — barking dogs, ringing bells, creaking doors — mix it all together in a new song, and sing the results as loud as it can.
As he rowed, Granddaddy pointed out some likely spots for hunting fossils. We'd had a heavy rain three days before, which had washed away parts of the riverbank, thus exposing treasures that had remained hidden for millions of years. Sometimes we'd also find arrowheads left behind by the bloodthirsty Comanche who had hunted here for centuries before being driven onto the reservation in the Oklahoma Territory.
Granddaddy pointed at the bank and said, "There's a new area of exposed sedimentary rock. That looks promising."
We beached the Beagle and set to work on the outcropping, Granddaddy gently tapping with a small hammer while I brushed away the chips and dust with a soft brush. He stopped after a few minutes and pointed at the rock.
"Look," he said, "do you see that?"
I looked but could see nothing special. "Uh, no."
"Take the hammer and this chisel. Tap here first, and then here, but not too hard. You want to try to get it out intact."
I still didn't know what "it" was, but I followed his instructions, chipping away and doing my best to be careful. Slowly, a shape emerged — a rounded piece of rock.
"Can you tell what it is yet?" said Granddaddy.
I stared at it. The rock looked coiled and ribbed. "Oh, I think it's an ammonite!"
I'd been hoping to find one of my own to match the one in Granddaddy's collection. His was the size of a dinner plate. This one looked smaller, about the size of a saucer, but just as nice and detailed.
I worked away, slowly freeing the once-living creature from the rock, while Granddaddy told me about ammonites, a kind of mollusk that had lived in the ocean millions of years ago.
"It looks like the nautilus shell in the library," I said.
"Indeed. The nautilus is the ammonite's closest living relative, followed by the clam and the oyster."
An hour and a half later, I ran my fingers over the perfect spiral. I held in my hand an extinct animal that had once lived at the bottom of a former ocean, and now on dry land on which I stood. The animal had died in the water and been trapped in mud that slowly turned to rock. The rock had kept it hidden for millions of years until I, Calpurnia Virginia Tate of Fentress, Texas, freed it. I held my newest treasure aloft in the sun, thinking, Water ... rock ... air ... light.
"Yes," said Granddaddy, nodding. He seemed to understand perfectly. I had a sudden picture in my mind of how he must have looked as a young boy, holding his first fossil up to catch the light.
He smiled and said, "Even though that shell is now a rock, it is still breakable. Wrap it up carefully to protect it until we get home."
I wrapped my find in old newspapers. He explained that the missing soft parts of the ammonite probably looked like those of a squid, and that it captured prey with its tentacles and ate it with a beak that looked like a parrot's. I would have to find a special place on my shelf of precious treasures to display it, perhaps next to the hummingbird's nest.
By then it was lunchtime, so we sat down to eat our sandwiches. Granddaddy talked about two men in western Colorado who were digging up huge fossils of ancient "thunder lizards" or "dinosaurs." Professor Cope and Professor Marsh were bitter rivals, racing to dig up the biggest and most complete dinosaurs to send to the museums in the big cities back East. Some of their finds were bigger than a horse, and some were bigger than a house. Some flew like birds, and some swam in the ocean. Some lived alone, and some hunted in packs. Some ate plants, and some ate other dinosaurs. There was something special about the soil in that area that was good for preserving bones and then heaving them to the surface. I wondered how you could dig out something that size, and how you'd display it. If I found something like that, I'd have to put it in the barn where my little brother Travis kept his ever-changing zoo.
"Perhaps we could go to Colorado one day," I said. "Perhaps we could take the train. After all, it's only a couple of states away. I wonder if I could talk Mother into it. You'd have to help me. You'd have to tell her it was for educational purposes."
Granddaddy smiled. "I don't believe that's the kind of education your mother has in mind for you."
"You're right." Scrambling through the dirt and digging up ancient dead things was my idea of a good time but not hers. There was no understanding it. I said, "We might have to think of something else."
"Your grandmother once had family in that area."
I perked up at this. Perhaps Mother might let me go after all.
"I haven't spoken with them in many years," he said.
"They sided with the North during the War, and they asked me to join them. Of course, I knew it was a useless conflict from the start, but I felt it my duty to put on the uniform of my homeland, the South. They never spoke to me again. All my letters were returned unopened."
"But the War was over a long time ago," I said, doing some arithmetic in my head. "Thirty-six years ago, to be exact. And it's a whole new century. How can they still be mad?" "To some people it is never over."
"Well, we're talking about dinosaurs, not the War. Do you think we could go to Colorado? Mother would never let me go on my own in a million years, so we'd have to go together. I bet if you asked her she'd say yes." But even as I said this, I had my doubts. Nobody in our family had ever made such a trip, especially not to dig up what she'd no doubt call a bunch of old bones. We'd have to tell her we were "visiting family." That's the kind of thing she'd like.
"Will you write to them, Granddaddy?" I pleaded. "We should at least try, don't you think?"
"All right. I'll see what I can do."
I kissed him on the cheek.
"Now," he said, "if you'll excuse me, I'm going to have a short rest." He pulled his knapsack under his head and tilted his hat down over his eyes. "Kindly wake me in half an hour."
"Yessir." I did not have a watch, but he'd taught me to tell time by the movement of the sun in the sky.
I tried to nap as well, but the mockingbird was making quite the racket. I found myself thinking of dinosaurs. Did they shake the ground when they walked? How fast could they run? If you took a time machine back to their era, would they be able to run you down and eat you? How long did they live? Would they make good pets? Not the meat-eating ones — those sounded like a nightmare — but the plant-eaters. Travis, who was crazy about all animals, would probably want one as a pet. I could just see him trying to stuff a giant brontosaurus into our barn, the long tail sticking out one side and the long neck sticking out the other, happily munching on hay while my brother patted the leathery hide and asked him if he was a good boy.
And people in town called me the crazy one. Ha! If they only knew.
Soon it was time to wake Granddaddy, and we set out again. I bailed for a while and wondered if Father would be willing to have the Beagle fixed and made watertight. The sun shone, the mockingbird mocked, and my grandfather gave a fascinating talk about the difference between newts and skinks and salamanders. I took notes as he talked. He knew everything about everything, and I loved him for it. I hoped that one day I would know everything about everything too.
The rest of the trip was quiet, right up to the swimming hole near Zapata's farm. We were gliding along. We were minding our own business. There was not a reason in the world to think our lives were about to change. Nope, no reason at all.
A sudden blur of movement caught the corner of my eye, followed by a sudden splash. Was it a little fish jumping to escape a bigger fish? Was it some rotten boy throwing rocks at us? Who would dare? I turned to look and saw, to my shock, an owl in the water.
What went through my head was this: (1) why, that's an owl, (2) and it's in the water, (3) but owls don't belong in the water, (4) therefore it can't be an owl, (5) but it is an owl, (6) and it's in the water, (7) but owls don't belong —
I might have sat there thinking in a circle all day like an idiot if Granddaddy hadn't snapped me out of it by saying, "Calpurnia, your net, if you please."
"Oh, right." I scrambled for my butterfly net as the owl thrashed its wings. I wouldn't exactly call it swimming, but it was managing to move slowly away from us. Granddaddy turned the boat and made a strange call that sounded sort of like this: deek deek deek. The owl stopped splashing for a moment and turned its white heart-shaped face to stare at us with coal-black eyes. Not liking what it saw — two humans instead of another owl — it thrashed harder and struck out for the other shore. We caught up to it without too much trouble, owls not really being aquatic types, as you probably know.
I stood up to snag it with my net, and we wobbled and tipped alarmingly. (Rowboats are very good for rowing in but very bad for standing in.)
"Careful now," said Granddaddy while I fought for my balance. I was just about to pitch over the side, when Granddaddy leaned the other way, righting the boat and saving me from going into the drink. I could just see the headlines in the local newspaper:
"Thanks," I puffed. "I think I can reach it."
I stretched with my butterfly net and swished it through the water. The owl saw it coming and ducked away. I swished again, and it ducked away again. Its feathers were now getting waterlogged, and it was starting to sink. I figured I only had one more chance. This time I swished at it from behind so it didn't see the net coming. I managed to snag the poor creature just as it was going under.
"Got it!" It screeched and thrashed and sprayed water everywhere, but it was surprisingly light, and I lifted it out of the water without any trouble. It lay snarled in the net at the bottom of the boat, flapping and making a terrible racket. You'd think it would be grateful, but it only looked fierce and angry. I thought it very beautiful.
Granddaddy said, "It is a barn owl, or Tyto alba, quite young from the look of it."
"What's wrong with it? What was it doing in the water?"
"The answer will have to wait until we can get it home for a proper examination. Or perhaps not. Look up ahead — there's Dr. Pritzker on the bridge."
I tore my eyes away from the owl, and sure enough, there was Dr. Pritzker waving at us. I waved back. I liked Dr. Pritzker. He was our town's only animal doctor. (The proper word for this is veterinarian.) He was usually so busy it was rare to see him out for a stroll.
"Ahoy!" he called. "What have you got there?"
Granddaddy said, "It's a barn owl we pulled from the river. It's hurt in some way."
"Well, bring it ashore, and let's take a look."
This surprised me because Dr. Pritzker didn't normally tend to wild creatures. He had his hands full with cattle and horses and other such valuable farm animals. But he and Granddaddy were friends; I figured that's why he agreed.
By now the owl was exhausted and lay still, blinking in the bright light.
We docked, and I got out carrying the owl in my arms, still in the net. Granddaddy and Dr. Pritzker shook hands. They had met when the doctor had moved to town after losing his home and practice in the terrible storm in Galveston a few months before. To save himself from the rising waters, he'd climbed into a tall oak tree. But the tree turned out to be swarming with rattlesnakes who'd all had the same idea, and he'd been bitten on his right arm. The hand had withered, and now he shook hands with his left. He often required help with tasks that needed two good hands. I helped him out around the office making labels for medicines, and sometimes he'd let me trail along behind him when he made farm calls. We were lucky that he'd decided to start life anew in Fentress.
"Well, Captain Tate," the doctor said, "you're certainly carrying unusual cargo today." For a moment, I thought he meant me.
"Indeed," Granddaddy said. "It's good of you to examine it for us."
"I'm happy to, but I can't promise much. Birds are not my normal patients. Hello, Calpurnia. I'd shake your hand, but I see you have your arms full."
Excerpted from "Who Gives a Hoot?"
Copyright © 2017 Jacqueline Kelly.
Excerpted by permission of Henry Holt and Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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