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A Nest for Celeste: A Story About Art, Inspiration, and the Meaning of Home

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Celeste is not your average mouse. She lives alone, quietly weaving baskets with creative flair under the floor boards of the Oakley Plantation. However, Celeste’s world turns upside down with the arrival of the great naturalist John James Audubon and his assistant Joseph, who have come to study and paint the birds of the Louisiana bayou. Their arrival coincides with Celes Celeste is not your average mouse. She lives alone, quietly weaving baskets with creative flair under the floor boards of the Oakley Plantation. However, Celeste’s world turns upside down with the arrival of the great naturalist John James Audubon and his assistant Joseph, who have come to study and paint the birds of the Louisiana bayou. Their arrival coincides with Celeste’s sudden displacement from her home below to a guest room upstairs. There she watches young Joseph struggle to create the backgrounds for Audubon’s bird paintings. As the two homesick souls strike up a friendship, the mouse secretly puts her artistic skills to good use; she simultaneously helps Joseph improve his compositions while aiding the wounded birds that Audubon captures for his studies. Nearly every page of author-illustrator Henry Cole's fine novel combines text and remarkable drawn images to tell the story of a mouse in need of a home of her own from the tiny creature's unique vantage point.


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Celeste is not your average mouse. She lives alone, quietly weaving baskets with creative flair under the floor boards of the Oakley Plantation. However, Celeste’s world turns upside down with the arrival of the great naturalist John James Audubon and his assistant Joseph, who have come to study and paint the birds of the Louisiana bayou. Their arrival coincides with Celes Celeste is not your average mouse. She lives alone, quietly weaving baskets with creative flair under the floor boards of the Oakley Plantation. However, Celeste’s world turns upside down with the arrival of the great naturalist John James Audubon and his assistant Joseph, who have come to study and paint the birds of the Louisiana bayou. Their arrival coincides with Celeste’s sudden displacement from her home below to a guest room upstairs. There she watches young Joseph struggle to create the backgrounds for Audubon’s bird paintings. As the two homesick souls strike up a friendship, the mouse secretly puts her artistic skills to good use; she simultaneously helps Joseph improve his compositions while aiding the wounded birds that Audubon captures for his studies. Nearly every page of author-illustrator Henry Cole's fine novel combines text and remarkable drawn images to tell the story of a mouse in need of a home of her own from the tiny creature's unique vantage point.

30 review for A Nest for Celeste: A Story About Art, Inspiration, and the Meaning of Home

  1. 4 out of 5

    MissBecka Gee

    I loved this book! I always think it's clever to have a true story of humans told through an adorable animal's POV. In this case it is a cutie patootie mouse named Celeste. This was exciting, sad, funny, adorable and highly interesting! The soft lines of the black & grey illustrations only added to the whimsy of Celeste's story. There were a couple scenes of graphic violence and/or death, so be sure to read this before handing it off to any tiny humans. I loved this book! I always think it's clever to have a true story of humans told through an adorable animal's POV. In this case it is a cutie patootie mouse named Celeste. This was exciting, sad, funny, adorable and highly interesting! The soft lines of the black & grey illustrations only added to the whimsy of Celeste's story. There were a couple scenes of graphic violence and/or death, so be sure to read this before handing it off to any tiny humans.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Pamela

    It took me a while to figure out what bothered me about "Celeste," and I think it has to do with anthropomorphism. On one end of the anthropomorphism scale is the toad-in-a-waistcoat. In toad-in-a-waistcoat the animal is simply a stand-in for a human character; references to real animal behavior, such as lily pad homes or cricket lunches, are thrown in for cuteness's sake. The other end of the anthropomorphic scale is the equivalent of someone at the zoo pounding on a snake's display case. It's It took me a while to figure out what bothered me about "Celeste," and I think it has to do with anthropomorphism. On one end of the anthropomorphism scale is the toad-in-a-waistcoat. In toad-in-a-waistcoat the animal is simply a stand-in for a human character; references to real animal behavior, such as lily pad homes or cricket lunches, are thrown in for cuteness's sake. The other end of the anthropomorphic scale is the equivalent of someone at the zoo pounding on a snake's display case. It's a desire for a meaningful connection to another species. That sort of anthropomorphic writing means closing our eyes, pressing our face against the glass, and trying to pretend the barrier doesn't exist. Cole might've shown Audubon and his young helper through the eyes of a very mouse-like mouse exhibiting very mouse-like behavior; that mouse might've wondered in a human-like way about the bizarre nature of Audubon's killing of birds to paint them instead of eating them. Cole does give Celeste mousy concerns with dining room crumbs and patrolling cats, but when a mouse weaves baskets, sets up home in a doll house, and learns lessons like "one friend may leave but another friend arrives" that's toad-in-a-waistcoat anthropomorphism. Of course, a mouse viewing the world with a human-level consciousness is no less fantastic than a basket-weaving mouse, but the fantasy would feel less jarring. And I think the reason it would feel less jarring is because Audubon's killing and pinning and painting has a great deal in common with anthropomorphic writing of the pretend-there-is-no-barrier kind. You might not entirely approve of Audubon's approach but both are rooted in the same common desire for communion with the beasts.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Margo Tanenbaum

    I have wondered for a long time about the relationship between mice and children's books. Few people like the little critters in real life, unless as fodder for science experiments, yet mice are the heroes of more children's books than you can shake a piece of cheese at. I wouldn't be surprised if someone has written a graduate thesis on this topic. In A Nest for Celeste, Celeste joins a pantheon of unforgettable mice heroes and heroines in both children's novels and picture books. Anyone who lo I have wondered for a long time about the relationship between mice and children's books. Few people like the little critters in real life, unless as fodder for science experiments, yet mice are the heroes of more children's books than you can shake a piece of cheese at. I wouldn't be surprised if someone has written a graduate thesis on this topic. In A Nest for Celeste, Celeste joins a pantheon of unforgettable mice heroes and heroines in both children's novels and picture books. Anyone who loves children's books knows Henry Cole as an immensely talented and versatile illustrator. As he says on his website, "From wombats and weasels to feathers and felines, Henry Cole has been busy as a beaver illustrating books for all ages." In fact, he has illustrated 70 books in his career, including another heroic mouse tale, Livingstone Mouse, penned by Pamela Duncan Edwards. Several of his picture books were written as well as illustrated by Cole, but A Nest for Celeste is his first foray into writing and illustrating a chapter book. This is no ordinary chapter book, however. The delicately shaded black-and-white pencil illustrations are integral to the story, in much the same way as the illustrations in Brian Selznick's The Invention of Hugo Cabret advance the plot of that novel. Cole uses many different visual perspectives, often letting us into the scene from the perspective of the tiny mouse. In other words, don't get this one on audiobook! Our small heroine, Celeste, lives on a plantation near New Orleans. She is, not surprisingly, no ordinary mouse. Among other talents are her ability to weave baskets out of the native grasses of Louisiana, which she uses to gather food left underneath the dining room table of the family that lives in the plantation house. It's 1821, and the house has some special visitors: James Audubon and his young apprentice, Joseph, who are drawing and painting the local birds and wildlife. Celeste is lonely until she makes the acquaintance of the friendly Joseph, who likes to carry around Celeste in his shirt pocket, affectionately dubs her "Little One" and feeds her peanuts. Celeste's bravery is tested many times in this book, not only by the housecat, always ready to attack, or the rats who bully her into giving them her food, or a terrible thunderstorm. Nowhere is really safe for the little creature, and she is forced to relocate her nest several times in the course of the story, finally making her home in a dollhouse filled with mouse-sized furniture that she finds in the attic. But before she knows it, it's time for her new friend Joseph to leave. Celeste is a very philosophical mouse. Cole writes: "She pondered: Was it worth the feelings of sadness and melancholy to make a friend and then lose him? Would she rather not have the heartache of losing a friend and not have the memory of friendship? No, she decided, no." But as we learn from the title, this is not just a story about friendship and the meaning of home; Cole also teaches us about art and inspiration by his exploration of how Audubon created his famous artwork. Modern readers will undoubtedly be shocked by his techniques: nearly all the birds he painted were shot and killed first, then posed using wire to recreate a lifelike pose. While some children may be disturbed by this, I appreciate that Cole chose to portray Audubon's work in an historically accurate way. The author also provides a useful afterword with additional facts about Audubon, his assistant, and the time they spent on the Oakley Plantation in 1821. He also includes a copy of Audubon's painting of an osprey or sea hawk, a bird who figures in the story as a friend of Celeste (a rather unusual friend for a mouse, perhaps!)

  4. 5 out of 5

    Destinee Sutton

    In the style of Hugo Cabret, this book features large pencil drawings that complement the text. The drawings are really wonderful in their detail and, I think, the most enjoyable part of the book. I also liked the little mouse Celeste herself. Though she never really came alive on the page, what we saw of her was lovable, and her journey to find a home and a friend is compelling. Ok, now I'm done being nice. I have to say, right off the bat I was not a fan of the second half of the title. It's a In the style of Hugo Cabret, this book features large pencil drawings that complement the text. The drawings are really wonderful in their detail and, I think, the most enjoyable part of the book. I also liked the little mouse Celeste herself. Though she never really came alive on the page, what we saw of her was lovable, and her journey to find a home and a friend is compelling. Ok, now I'm done being nice. I have to say, right off the bat I was not a fan of the second half of the title. It's a little tacky to hit readers over the head with the themes of the book right up front. There are some good post-colon descriptions in the history of titles that sing (e.g. The Tale of Despereaux) but they have some playfulness going on. Henry Cole's choice of title addendum is both insulting, and even worse, false advertising. This little book does not live up to its subtitle. Furthermore, it's strange for a book that is mostly about adorable animals to have such a gruesome side to it. Apparently, John James Audobon killed, and in some cases practically tortured, his feathered subjects. Ugh. I don't know who to give this book to. It would be upsetting to the little kids who would love its cuteness. Kids old enough to handle the dark stuff might be turned off the preciousness of it.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    Henry Cole's, A Nest for Celeste, is one of those rare finds among childrens books that has the potential to reach readers of all levels and ages. This is a wonderful story about the power of friendship, the sense of purpose and the need to have and find a place called 'home.' Cole weaves art, history, and science into a story that is hard to put down and a pleasure to read. His illustrations are reminiscent of Garth Williams and David Selznick and go beyond his rich text. This is a book that is Henry Cole's, A Nest for Celeste, is one of those rare finds among childrens books that has the potential to reach readers of all levels and ages. This is a wonderful story about the power of friendship, the sense of purpose and the need to have and find a place called 'home.' Cole weaves art, history, and science into a story that is hard to put down and a pleasure to read. His illustrations are reminiscent of Garth Williams and David Selznick and go beyond his rich text. This is a book that is both Caldecott and Newbery worthy and is destined to find it's place on the book shelf next to Stuart Little and Charlotte's Web.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Josiah

    This is my first experience with the work of author/illustrator Henry Cole. A Nest for Celeste was actually on my list of 2010 books that I might have or might not have gotten around to eventually, depending on how things went, but I'm very happy that I chose to read it. Whether judging by the story itself or the awesome pencil art that liberally decorates the novel inside and out, this book is a wonderful experience for readers of any age. It's a simple story that perfectly reflects the old-fas This is my first experience with the work of author/illustrator Henry Cole. A Nest for Celeste was actually on my list of 2010 books that I might have or might not have gotten around to eventually, depending on how things went, but I'm very happy that I chose to read it. Whether judging by the story itself or the awesome pencil art that liberally decorates the novel inside and out, this book is a wonderful experience for readers of any age. It's a simple story that perfectly reflects the old-fashioned spirit of the time in which it is set, but offers so much more than just simplicity and an interesting narrative to grab one's fancy for a few hours. it's one of those rare books that I believe has the potential to become a true classic, and could one day consistently be a standard reason behind real children learning to love literature. While a small piece of the autobiography of American painter John James Audubon factors into this story, that's really more an interesting bit of peripheral action for those interested in the book's contemporary historical figures and setting. The important character for us to know about in regard to the plot is Celeste, a mouse who lives alone in a large house in the country. The third decade of the 1800s has just begun, but Celeste is less concerned with the state of the union than she is with scrounging around to come up with her daily ration of food. This task is made no easier by two pushy rats who make their living by forcing Celeste to take all the risks and cater to their demands for food. She has to outwit the house cat to get enough food for three, and there's sure to be a day when her luck in staying one step ahead of the predator runs out, but Celeste doesn't have a whole lot of choice in the matter. The rats are bigger than she is and quite mean, and won't be satisfied with much less than a daily smorgasbord. Celeste's luck changes when the distinguished Mr. Audubon comes to stay at the house, bringing with him his teenage apprentice, Joseph Mason. Joseph discovers Celeste curled up in one of his boots, where she has built her new nest, but his reaction to the presence of a mouse hidden in his shoe is one only of gentleness. Celeste can't speak to him and he can't talk to her, but as the frightened little mouse begins to realize that the large creature who has caught her intends to bring her no harm, a wordless friendship gradually grows up between the two. Well, I'm not going to spoil any of what comes next by entering into an in-depth description of it. Henry Cole does a much better job than I possibly could of relating this wonderful, adventure-filled story, in the tradition of old favorites like William Steig's Dominic and Robert Lawson's Rabbit Hill. A Nest for Celeste is exactly the kind of story that my third-grade teacher used to read to our class, a basically innocent yet unpredictable and emotional book that could easily instill the love of reading in thirty kids at the same time, all sitting enraptured on the carpet to listen to what's going to happen next. Henry Cole's writing in A Nest for Celeste soars with lovely images and warm, sincere sentiment, and the story's occasional moments of quiet reflection are deeply felt and make the narrative all the more endearing. I love this book, just as much as I would have at hearing it told when I was in third grade, listening to my teacher through her telling of the story bring it to vivid life the way that we as individual students were just starting to learn how to do. A book like that... well, it's absolutely timeless, which is why I say that A Nest for Celeste has a shot at becoming a genuine classic. I would definitely be remiss if I didn't make room for a special mention of the illustrations in this book. Henry Cole enlivens the plain text by his pencil drawings at a level of charming sophistication that could only be compared to the brilliant work of Brian Selznick. Henry Cole touches most of this book's pages with his original and evocative artwork to some extent, so that at times it feels almost as if one is reading a picture book. As a result, three hundred forty-two pages goes by in a snap, and the entire reading experience is made all the more delightful by the continual presence of the beautiful drawings. More than anything else, I would say it is the illustrations that make A Nest for Celeste totally unforgettable. I could sing the praises of almost any element of this book. The characters are surprising, engaging, fun and always humorous. The plot is homey and accessible to anybody, yet doesn't lack for depth of purpose or meaning. The adventures that befall Celeste are exciting and at times perhaps even slightly suspenseful,and always connect smoothly back to the main body of the narrative and the novel's bigger themes. Any way one looks at the finished product, it adds up to an impressive book which acts best as its own commendation, far better than anything that I could say about it. I really loved reading A Nest for Celeste, and I wouldn't hesitate a moment to read anything else that Henry Cole has written. A book this nice doesn't come along without a great effort on behalf of the author, and I hope that others will enjoy the the superb result of Henry Cole's effort in the creation of A Nest for Celeste as much as did I.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Danica Midlil

    I took the time to read through several others' reviews of this book before writing one of my own. Many really liked the book and just as many really didn't, which is interesting all by itself. I also gained a topic from one review for a master's thesis if I ever need to write one: Mice in Children's Literature. I'm a fan of mouse books as I've said in previous reviews. They can portray the tiny unknown observer of our lives so perfectly, complete with big ears and fuzzy little bodies. How endea I took the time to read through several others' reviews of this book before writing one of my own. Many really liked the book and just as many really didn't, which is interesting all by itself. I also gained a topic from one review for a master's thesis if I ever need to write one: Mice in Children's Literature. I'm a fan of mouse books as I've said in previous reviews. They can portray the tiny unknown observer of our lives so perfectly, complete with big ears and fuzzy little bodies. How endearing. Except endearing things have a built-in expiration date that changes as our culture changes. Recently, it has advanced. I'd guess that mouse stories currently expire around second grade and don't come alive for reader's again until college (if they are lucky like I was, to take a Children's Literature class at that time to reissue permission to visit the children's section of the library!) or parenthood. I would put down money on a bet that a fourth grade boy is not going to touch a book with a charming and cozy mouse on the cover, yet that is the age some reviewers have suggested this book for! No doubt this age recommendation is due to the slightly unexpected level of violence that blasts onto the scene in what appears to be a MOUSE book! My question is: Who is this book for? It seems entirely too graphic for those who will pick it up, but also entirely too "cutesy" or "babyish" for those who would be prepared to read about "putrefying carcasses" and main characters getting shot in the Head! Who is the intended audience here?

  8. 4 out of 5

    Charlyn

    In 1939, Robert Lawson set a small mouse in Benjamin Franklin's hat to narrate a historical tale. Henry Cole now sets a small mouse named Celeste in the hat of young Joseph Mason, the apprentice of John James Audubon's assistant, while the two stay on a Louisiana plantation to paint the birds and foliage. The story, however, isn't Audubon's story or even the story of Joseph, still a young teenager away from home for the first time. This is the story of Celeste, a talented young basket-weaving mo In 1939, Robert Lawson set a small mouse in Benjamin Franklin's hat to narrate a historical tale. Henry Cole now sets a small mouse named Celeste in the hat of young Joseph Mason, the apprentice of John James Audubon's assistant, while the two stay on a Louisiana plantation to paint the birds and foliage. The story, however, isn't Audubon's story or even the story of Joseph, still a young teenager away from home for the first time. This is the story of Celeste, a talented young basket-weaving mouse who is searching for a place to call home, all the time aware that the household cat is waiting for her to slip up and slip into his paws. The reader will learn something about the ways in which Audubon captured the images of those beautiful birds he painted--and that's not a pretty story. And Cole has woven into the story many of the birds, some now extinct, that once lived in that part of the country. But it is Celeste's story and the wonderful illustrations that are especially apt for a book "about art, inspiration, and the meaning of home" that the reader will enjoy. At the book's beginning, I at first believed it was going to be like Selznick's Hugo Cabret and the illustrations would tell part of the story, but they quickly became a beautiful backdrop to Cole's tale of the adventures of Celeste and those who shared her life. Altogether a precious package.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kathryn

    This is my first Henry Cole book and was it ever a delight. It's based on the four month visit of John James Audubon and his 13 year old assistant Joseph's visit at Oakley Plantation near New Orleans. The story revolves around the sweetest little mouse, Celeste (I just love her name) and her getting to know Joseph as well as her encounters with the home's cat. She meets some enchanting birds with great personalities and learns the meaning of friendship. Henry Cole's website is such fun, henrycol This is my first Henry Cole book and was it ever a delight. It's based on the four month visit of John James Audubon and his 13 year old assistant Joseph's visit at Oakley Plantation near New Orleans. The story revolves around the sweetest little mouse, Celeste (I just love her name) and her getting to know Joseph as well as her encounters with the home's cat. She meets some enchanting birds with great personalities and learns the meaning of friendship. Henry Cole's website is such fun, henrycole.net. His art/illustrations are such fun for the eye, they add a touch of whimsy and glee to my day!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kris - My Novelesque Life

    RATING: 4 STARS (Review Not on Blog) For a person who gives the death glare to mice in real life, I love stories about mice! First of all, I loved the pencil sketches in this book. I went through the book just admiring those at first. A Nest for Celeste is a historical fiction novel with real life characters of John James Audubon and his assistant, Joseph. I enjoyed the story and loved that it had some historical aspects to it other than just set in a different time period. I am looking forward to RATING: 4 STARS (Review Not on Blog) For a person who gives the death glare to mice in real life, I love stories about mice! First of all, I loved the pencil sketches in this book. I went through the book just admiring those at first. A Nest for Celeste is a historical fiction novel with real life characters of John James Audubon and his assistant, Joseph. I enjoyed the story and loved that it had some historical aspects to it other than just set in a different time period. I am looking forward to the next book in the series!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Is there a way to give a book negative stars? I was warned this was "not a good book," but like a trainwreck I just couldn't look away. I couldn't believe that such a cute little book with pretty drawings could be this bad. And on the surface it is not overwhelmingly bad. But the themes that emerge are unbearable. Let's start with the basic premise: Celeste wants a place that feels like home. And in the end she finds one. Not the place with friends, not a convenient place near a food source. No Is there a way to give a book negative stars? I was warned this was "not a good book," but like a trainwreck I just couldn't look away. I couldn't believe that such a cute little book with pretty drawings could be this bad. And on the surface it is not overwhelmingly bad. But the themes that emerge are unbearable. Let's start with the basic premise: Celeste wants a place that feels like home. And in the end she finds one. Not the place with friends, not a convenient place near a food source. No her new home's advantage is that it is pretty. Yes, appearance is more important than any other factor in finally settling on a home. Shall we discuss the bullying in the book? The two rats are clearly presented as bullies with no other personality characteristics. One is conveniently killed by a cat early on. The second suddenly reappears toward the end of the book. Has Celeste grown and found her voice to speak up to the bully? No, she simpers and cowers and lets herself be bossed around until the second rat also dies a random death. And the death of the rat is justified because she was overweight. "Tweren't nobodies fault 'cept maybe Trixie for eating one meal too many." (quoting from memory as the book is not at hand right now) As if being fat is a justification for death?!?!? Oh, and then you set a book in 1821 in a plantation in Louisiana, and the only human characters given names are white? And there is a brief mention of the son of a field hand. Talk about white washing history. Yes, I am applying modern sensibilities to an historical setting. But that is just what the characters do when they recoil at the cruelty of hunting. Come one, animal killing was a daily event in this time. It was as commonplace as going to the market for us. So why is Celeste shocked at the shooting of birds? Yes, there is a certain irony to Audubon killing birds, but not enough to write a novel around it. Bad, bad, bad book full of superficial fluff.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Donalyn

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I think that any book with a mouse (or dog) on the cover has instant kid-appeal. Henry Cole creates a tender heroine with Celeste, a young mouse, who is lonely and looking for a home. She lives under the floorboards of a plantation house, where she fears the cat, and the two rats who steal her food, bite and tease her, and force her to forage for them. Celeste is an artist, who weaves beautiful baskets from grass blades, shells, feathers, and other scraps from her wanderings around the plantation I think that any book with a mouse (or dog) on the cover has instant kid-appeal. Henry Cole creates a tender heroine with Celeste, a young mouse, who is lonely and looking for a home. She lives under the floorboards of a plantation house, where she fears the cat, and the two rats who steal her food, bite and tease her, and force her to forage for them. Celeste is an artist, who weaves beautiful baskets from grass blades, shells, feathers, and other scraps from her wanderings around the plantation. When John James Audubon and his young apprentice, Joseph, arrive at the plantation to study the birds and plants, Celeste finds a friend in Joseph, who she sees as a fellow artist. Celeste embarks on several adventures as a result of this new friendship and eventually finds a permanent, safe home. I thought that the interplay between the illustrations and the text brought Celeste and her world to life and that the book had a nice message about the importance of art and friendship in a person's (mouse's) life. I wonder if the information about Audubon is too subtle for young readers. Will they realize that many of the birds that Celeste encounters on her adventures like the Carolina parakeet, Ivory-billed woodpecker, and Passenger pigeon are now extinct? OK, maybe not the woodpecker... I think adults should provide additional insight to young readers about Audubon's work and the significance of including these birds in the book, so that young readers will gain deeper meaning from it.

  13. 5 out of 5

    C.J. Milbrandt

    Told from the point of view of a mouse. Celeste only wants a nice, safe home and enough food to eat, but when important guests come to the house in which she's made a home, her life is changed by a gentle boy who treats her kindly. A slice-of-life animal story with a varied cast of critters, set up against historical events surrounding the travels and artistry of Mr. Audubon, who is famous for his illustrations of North American birds. This whole story is gorgeously illustrated. Art on every pag Told from the point of view of a mouse. Celeste only wants a nice, safe home and enough food to eat, but when important guests come to the house in which she's made a home, her life is changed by a gentle boy who treats her kindly. A slice-of-life animal story with a varied cast of critters, set up against historical events surrounding the travels and artistry of Mr. Audubon, who is famous for his illustrations of North American birds. This whole story is gorgeously illustrated. Art on every page.

  14. 4 out of 5

    X

    As usual, I don't know if this should be 3 or 4 stars... maybe 3 1/2 would split the difference. Anyway, the story is nice, if a bit forgettable, but the illustrations are wonderful and more than make up for any lack in the writing! It is impossible to not fall in love with Celeste. She is just so cute, and most of the other animals in the drawings are just as endearing. As usual, I don't know if this should be 3 or 4 stars... maybe 3 1/2 would split the difference. Anyway, the story is nice, if a bit forgettable, but the illustrations are wonderful and more than make up for any lack in the writing! It is impossible to not fall in love with Celeste. She is just so cute, and most of the other animals in the drawings are just as endearing.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jody Timmins

    This book should not be in print; it tells lies about American history and erases the experiences -- in fact, it often erases the existence -- of African-Americans. This story is set on Oakley Plantation in 1821. The main character is a sentient mouse who can weave baskets, talk to other animals, and befriend Joseph Mason, the teenage assistant of John James Audubon. Mason and Audubon are real people; Oakley Plantation is a real place. Over the course of the story, the author goes into great detai This book should not be in print; it tells lies about American history and erases the experiences -- in fact, it often erases the existence -- of African-Americans. This story is set on Oakley Plantation in 1821. The main character is a sentient mouse who can weave baskets, talk to other animals, and befriend Joseph Mason, the teenage assistant of John James Audubon. Mason and Audubon are real people; Oakley Plantation is a real place. Over the course of the story, the author goes into great detail about the animals and plants of Oakley Plantation. But just about the only people present are the white owners of the land, a variety of hunters shooting birds, Audubon, and his assistant. These are just a few examples of the absolute erasure of the enslaved people who lived on Oakley Plantation in 1821: On page 95, "food was being brought out from the summer kitchen." On page 170, horses "were hurried into the barn, along with wagons of cotton and flax." On page 218, "Celeste could see that the early activity of the plantation had begun. Horses were pulling wagons toward the rice and sugercane fields, and smoke was rising from a few chimneys dotted across the landscape." But most offensively of all, on page 150, "Two young boys, the sons of one of the farmhands" give a wood thrush to Joseph for Audubon's project. The boys had found the bird in the lower barn, and in return for their service, Joseph gives them a coin. A full-page illustration makes it clear that these boys are African-American. This passage, then, tells a lie to children. There were no African-American farmhands on Oakley Plantation in 1821. Any African-American boys on that plantation were the sons of enslaved people. They would themselves be enslaved, and they would not have been earning money by bringing birds to Audubon or his assistant. No book telling such heinous lies about the reality of Louisiana plantation life in 1821 should remain in print. It is offensive that it was published in 2010 at all.

  16. 4 out of 5

    four_eyes

    This is a heartwarming tale of a little mouse named Celeste who longs for a place she can call home and friends to ease her loneliness. On her adventures, Celeste encounters many obstacles (bullying mice, getting swept away by the wind, escaping the house cat's clutches), but her endurance and resourcefulness saves her on many occasions and leads her to befriend a diverse group of friends; human and neighborhood creatures. In the end, Celeste matures from being a timid to a brave mouse who finds This is a heartwarming tale of a little mouse named Celeste who longs for a place she can call home and friends to ease her loneliness. On her adventures, Celeste encounters many obstacles (bullying mice, getting swept away by the wind, escaping the house cat's clutches), but her endurance and resourcefulness saves her on many occasions and leads her to befriend a diverse group of friends; human and neighborhood creatures. In the end, Celeste matures from being a timid to a brave mouse who finds her place in the world she occupies. Celeste makes many life changing decisions and never regrets her choices. When she reflects upon her short-lived friendships and questions whether it was worthwhile in becoming friends with those she knows will leave her, Celeste simply answers yes because the happy memories will stay with her forever. Henry Cole wrote a wonderful story for children that surprisingly an older audience might also find much joy in reading as well. I was very charmed by Celeste and her take on life. Celeste's questioning of home and friends parallel thoughts that people of all ages go through and continuously do so as they grow in life; finding their own place in a world that can be daunting and unfamiliar, of belonging, of the people we encounter, and being brave in taking that extra step to strike up a friendship, long lasting or not. The story is also interspersed with detailed black and white illustrations that bring Celeste's varied expressions to vivid life and gives readers a perspective in seeing the world through a mouse's eyes.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Eva

    I loved this book .. partly because it was THE chapter book that has inspired my daughter to explore the delightful world of books (beyond the simple easy readers and bridging books). A Nest for Celeste was a great summer read ... providing us with inspiration for our own study of birds and of Audubon himself. The concepts of bullying and the methods used by Audubon provided much for discussion. Henry Cole's delightful illustrations encouraged us to try our hand at charcoal. I loved this book .. partly because it was THE chapter book that has inspired my daughter to explore the delightful world of books (beyond the simple easy readers and bridging books). A Nest for Celeste was a great summer read ... providing us with inspiration for our own study of birds and of Audubon himself. The concepts of bullying and the methods used by Audubon provided much for discussion. Henry Cole's delightful illustrations encouraged us to try our hand at charcoal.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Yuliana Gallardo

    I really liked this book because it was nice of how he had to be in his owners pocket the whole time and how the owner treated him really nice like a person. I recommend this book to everyone because tit has different type of feelings and art. That's why I gave it a five star. It was about a mouse that always weaved baskets he lived in the attic, in a sock, in a cage, and in Joseph's pocket (owner). Also, that his best friend which was a human ( Joseph) had a friend that was not Celeste's and te I really liked this book because it was nice of how he had to be in his owners pocket the whole time and how the owner treated him really nice like a person. I recommend this book to everyone because tit has different type of feelings and art. That's why I gave it a five star. It was about a mouse that always weaved baskets he lived in the attic, in a sock, in a cage, and in Joseph's pocket (owner). Also, that his best friend which was a human ( Joseph) had a friend that was not Celeste's and teaches Joseph how to draw but only birds and they had to kill one to draw it but Joseph didn't want to. So he started drawing pictures of Celeste and Celeste was always happy to sign it with his paw after.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    Shades of The Invention of Hugo Cabret. A fat, very heavily illustrated (even similar style, the soft B&W pencil), historical fiction, with a brave main character who is basically alone in the world. The real-life character in this case draws birds instead of makes films, but in both instances he is creative and at least a bit eccentric. This didn't do much for me, but maybe because I was distracted by the comparison, so I'll round up my 2.5 star rating. Otoh, Cole's writing intrigues, and I will Shades of The Invention of Hugo Cabret. A fat, very heavily illustrated (even similar style, the soft B&W pencil), historical fiction, with a brave main character who is basically alone in the world. The real-life character in this case draws birds instead of makes films, but in both instances he is creative and at least a bit eccentric. This didn't do much for me, but maybe because I was distracted by the comparison, so I'll round up my 2.5 star rating. Otoh, Cole's writing intrigues, and I will consider more by him.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    This was beautiful— both the story and illustrations. I loved how it told part of the history of Audubon and his assistant and their controversial way of illustrating the birds of North America before there were cameras. The animal relationships were so sweet. And holy crap — it even included an Ivory-billed Woodpecker! I was sold with that. Lovely and historically interesting.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    This was an adorable story of Celeste the mouse 🐭 as she learns of love friendship and what they truely mean but she has has some grand adventures of her own and she is a talented little mouse as well .. I enjoyed every minute of this story and the illustrations were amazing a must read for all .

  22. 4 out of 5

    Qt

    3 1/2 stars. The story is sweet and I think I'd have loved it when I was 10 or so. My favorite part, though, is the art. 3 1/2 stars. The story is sweet and I think I'd have loved it when I was 10 or so. My favorite part, though, is the art.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Leah Rose

    If you like reading about sad mice this book is for you. The illustrations are phenomenal. Six stars.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Katja

    5+ stars & 6/10 hearts. This book. It is so, so beautiful and sweet. The illustrations are perfect, and the story is so whimsical! <3 (Note that there are some euphemisms and one place where Audubon swears in French). There are some lovely descriptions... of music and the world and the river... Joseph is a darling and I loved his interactions with Celeste. And Lafayette is so much fun. xD This is definitely a must-read for anyone and you will not regret purchasing it! (The hardcover version is b 5+ stars & 6/10 hearts. This book. It is so, so beautiful and sweet. The illustrations are perfect, and the story is so whimsical! <3 (Note that there are some euphemisms and one place where Audubon swears in French). There are some lovely descriptions... of music and the world and the river... Joseph is a darling and I loved his interactions with Celeste. And Lafayette is so much fun. xD This is definitely a must-read for anyone and you will not regret purchasing it! (The hardcover version is beautiful and worth every penny). A Favourite Beautiful Quote: “[The thrush] hopped gracefully onto the dogwood branch, fluttering a little. He took a deep breath and opened his mouth to sing. “Out came the liquid, gurgling stream of silvery notes so sweet and fluid that Joseph dropped his pencils.... “The song, a mixture of sweetness and melancholy, swirled through the room like a cool breeze.” A Favourite Humorous Quote: “‘Well, there I was, mindin’ my own business, [...], had barely gotten any distance at all, and the next thing I know, BOOM! Some crazy maniac down in the yard is jumpin’ around and wavin’ his gun and laughin’! My wing missin’ some feathers, and down I go.’”

  25. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    A sweet night time read for my 9 year old daughter and I to enjoy together. The historical and winsome nature of this story coupled with remarkable illustrations made it lovely. Now my daugther is off reading Celeste's next adventure, at a faster pace than we read this one! A sweet night time read for my 9 year old daughter and I to enjoy together. The historical and winsome nature of this story coupled with remarkable illustrations made it lovely. Now my daugther is off reading Celeste's next adventure, at a faster pace than we read this one!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Handford

    Welcome to Oakley plantation in Louisiana during the Monroe administration, where Mr. and Mrs. Pirrie live with their daughter Eliza. Visitor Mr. Audubon and his apprentice Joseph come to live with the Pirries. Audubon is charged with teaching young Eliza to dance, draw, and paint to ready herself to entertain suiters. While there, Audubon will collect wildlife specimens to sketch and to paint for his Birds of America folio. Fifteen-year-old apprentice Joseph will help by painting backgrounds. L Welcome to Oakley plantation in Louisiana during the Monroe administration, where Mr. and Mrs. Pirrie live with their daughter Eliza. Visitor Mr. Audubon and his apprentice Joseph come to live with the Pirries. Audubon is charged with teaching young Eliza to dance, draw, and paint to ready herself to entertain suiters. While there, Audubon will collect wildlife specimens to sketch and to paint for his Birds of America folio. Fifteen-year-old apprentice Joseph will help by painting backgrounds. Living beneath the floorboards is a little mouse named Celeste. Her mother and father, three brothers and sister, were killed by a blade during harvest. A groundhog named Ellis saved her, nursed her back to health, and brought her to the Pirrie’s house. Under the floorboard, she weaves beautiful baskets out of grasses and feathers. But she is tormented by Trixie and Iliana, two greedy rats who send out Celeste for food, even if the house cat and dog are roaming nearby. Celeste, after being cornered by the cat, is forced to relocate. Celeste climbs the newel post and proceeds up the staircase. She enters a small room that belongs to Joseph. Exhausted from her efforts, she builds a nest in the toe of Joseph’s boot. Young Joseph finds her the next day and rather than tossing her aside, he nuzzles and cuddles her, calling her Little One. From then on, Celeste becomes his companion, living in his pocket and eating the peanuts he feeds her. But much adventure awaits for Celeste. Soon a wood thrush named Cornelius is in the room with her, asking her to fetch him dogwood berries. Celeste obliges, only to be tossed and tumbled because of a violent storm, and carried away down a muddy, raging river. There she is saved by an osprey named Lafayette. Celeste weaves a gondola and asks Lafayette to fly her back to the plantation. This plan works and soon Celeste is back with Joseph. Next, Lafayette is wounded by Audubon, who shot him. Celeste helps her osprey friend escape. The author clearly holds a strong opinion on hunting, in general, and of Audubon’s method for killing birds simply so he may paint them. Hunters, hunting, and guns are cast as the enemy and human folly is highlighted, especially when the hunters shoot poor Joseph in the head (though he is only wounded). Joseph recovers, the bully rat Trixie returns, and Celeste discovers an attic full of furniture including a dollhouse just her size. Joseph leaves, sad he cannot find Celeste. This book, full of beautiful illustrations, is a sweet rendering of personified animals in a human world. The reader eagerly roots for Celeste and Joseph and wishes for them to stay together, but alas Joseph leaves, and Celeste makes a home in the doll house. She is not alone, though, as Cornelius the wood thrush has sent Violet, a wren, to keep her company through the winter.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Alyssa

    I thought is was sad in the end. I think it was cute how Celeste made lots of new friends. I thought it was sad what happened to her family. I liked the part when she found Joseph. I don't think it was nice what Mr. Audubon did with the birds at all. -- review by Quinn, 6.75 years old My review: The real world is hard and maybe that is why I prefer fantasy. I had a hard time with this book...it made me think of Charlotte's Web. Let me start by saying that our heroine lives in the end. But through I thought is was sad in the end. I think it was cute how Celeste made lots of new friends. I thought it was sad what happened to her family. I liked the part when she found Joseph. I don't think it was nice what Mr. Audubon did with the birds at all. -- review by Quinn, 6.75 years old My review: The real world is hard and maybe that is why I prefer fantasy. I had a hard time with this book...it made me think of Charlotte's Web. Let me start by saying that our heroine lives in the end. But through the book we encounter many highs and lows of this sweet mouse. She is bullied by rats, nearly drowned in a thunderstorm, almost killed by a cat, but her bully meets that fate instead, and witnesses birds being shot or one who dies in captivity at the hands of Mr. Audubon who likes to pose his subjects utilizing rigor mortis or pins. It sounds awful, right? At the same time, there are wonderful creatures that Celeste meets on her adventures and many ways that we see friendship and love at work. She uses lots of ingenuity in challenging situations and I loved her basket making skills. We also see how this little mouse could be a part of changing how Mr. Audubon created his art without harming the birds. I wasn't so happy with the ending as it felt a bit punted where this bird just shows up right at the end and makes a tidy bow. However, it does drive home the point that friends come and go, but the memories of their adventures will always warm your heart. And there are new friends to be made. Quinn is in a place of finding her resilience. She is not always very transparent about her feelings, so it can be hard to tell. Nevertheless, while reading this book, she would mention that a part was sad and she would want to chat about it(isn't it sad that this happened or that he does is that way, etc.). She would then be ready move on and hear more and continue the book. And clearly she rated it 4 stars so she liked it. Somehow I think it was harder for me. Can't Celeste be safe and cozy for just a little while?!? Maybe I need to work on my resilience? :-) If you do read this to your little one, be prepared for the way Mr. Audubon does his bird paintings because that is factual and was alarming to me. I did not know that part of his autobiography. If you are looking for a natural adventure that isn't tugging so hard on your heart strings, I would say read The Night Fairy instead. If you are looking for something that is a mix of the dangers of being a small animal, sweet friendships and small joys, how art is subjective in many ways...give this a try. Probably two stars from me.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    This book is written and illustrated in the fashion of Brian Selznick's Caldecott winning The Invention of Hugo Cabret . And like Selznick story, A Nest For Celeste is based around actual events. This book is told from Celeste's, a field mouse, perspective as she is forced to find a new nest when the family cat begins to stalk her old one. Meanwhile the Pirrie family has welcomed new vistors, Audubon (yes, the famous bird painter) and his young assistant Joseph. The parts of this book that ar This book is written and illustrated in the fashion of Brian Selznick's Caldecott winning The Invention of Hugo Cabret . And like Selznick story, A Nest For Celeste is based around actual events. This book is told from Celeste's, a field mouse, perspective as she is forced to find a new nest when the family cat begins to stalk her old one. Meanwhile the Pirrie family has welcomed new vistors, Audubon (yes, the famous bird painter) and his young assistant Joseph. The parts of this book that are based on actual events where the ones that made me question this book's suitability for children. Audubon killed and poised the majority of the birds he painted. (including the now extinct Ivory Billed Woodpecker.) Joseph confronts Audubon about killing the woodpecker to which Audubon remarks "one bird less won't make any difference." This is a great scene as Joseph considers Audubon's comments "He thought about the ivory-billed; there were certainly other woodpeckers all along the river valley. But what if there was only one more? How would it spend the rest of its days? On an endless and futile search up and down the valley, looking for another ivory-billed woodpecker?" Another part that made me flinch was that Joseph is accidentally shot in the head. It's mostly a flesh wound, but it was quite a disturbing scene, especially when told from the point of view of Celeste who only sees blood...everywhere. The part that humored and disappointed me the most was the chapter that was replaced in the final edit. In the book there are two rats that are very mean to poor Celeste. One is eaten by a cat pretty early on. The second rat, Trixie reappears toward the end of the book to give Celeste more grief. When Trixie hears the Celeste's new friend Layfette (an Osprey) gave Celeste a ride in a woven basket Trixie demands she gets a ride too. Layfette reluctantly agrees. In both books the chapter is titled "Trixie Takes Flight..." In the final edit the next chapter is "...Like a Rock Tossed Into a Muddy Pond" where Trixie is being a pain and yanks hard on the ropes of the basket, which breaks and Trixie is sent plummeting into the river. Afterward Layfette searches the river but, alas Trixie is no more. In the version I read... "Layfette has Enough" is the title of the chapter. And like the chapter says Layfette is sick of Trixie's bossy behavior and her picking on sweet Celeste so Layfette strands her in the bayou next to a bunch of hunger gators. Personally I liked the satisfaction of this ending, but I can see why it was changed.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Fran

    This book is so sweet and enduring that it hurts. If I ever have children, I will most definitely read this book to them and if I don't have children, then I will read it to my cats. It is perfect for reading aloud. The language flows in a storytime fashion and each chapter is short and wrapped up nicely. The illustrations are precious and deserve more than just a page turn. You have to stop and take them in. Henry Cole, who also wrote and illustrated "On Meadowview Street," (one of my favorite This book is so sweet and enduring that it hurts. If I ever have children, I will most definitely read this book to them and if I don't have children, then I will read it to my cats. It is perfect for reading aloud. The language flows in a storytime fashion and each chapter is short and wrapped up nicely. The illustrations are precious and deserve more than just a page turn. You have to stop and take them in. Henry Cole, who also wrote and illustrated "On Meadowview Street," (one of my favorite picture books) obviously has a deep passion for nature and it shows through his writing. This is another talking animal story, so you have your classic talking mouse who's trying to survive the household cat and humans, but this book has an extra level of interest. It has historical edge. Celeste is a mouse living in a plantation near New Orleans in the 1800's. John James Audubon and his assistant Joseph are staying at the plantation while studying and illustrating local wildlife. After several close calls, Joseph adopts Celeste as his friend and carries her around in his pocket. Celeste meets all sorts of new friends along the way and finally finds a home, a "nest" that's safe and sound in an attic dollhouse. How cute is that? Many natural, historical notes are noteworthy like the fact that Audubon and Joseph experience now endangered species in the field, like the Ivory-billed Woodpecker and the Carolina Parakeet. I adore this book, but then again, I love most animal fantasy and nature stories, so for me it was the perfect combination! I recommend this book as a family read for children anywhere between the ages of 4 and 10. It would work well as a nightly, before bed story, but would also work well in a classroom setting.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Amalia

    As Celeste weaves her grass baskets, so Cole masterfully weaves his tale. Layer upon layer is unearthed as we explore Celeste's world with her, as we join her in her search for safety and security - no easy feat for a mouse, or anyone else! As we adventure with Celeste, we meet John James Audubon and his assistant Joseph. Audubon is known for his detailed sketches and paintings of birds in their natural habitats. Cole adds to our understanding of this artist and naturalist through the eyes of Ce As Celeste weaves her grass baskets, so Cole masterfully weaves his tale. Layer upon layer is unearthed as we explore Celeste's world with her, as we join her in her search for safety and security - no easy feat for a mouse, or anyone else! As we adventure with Celeste, we meet John James Audubon and his assistant Joseph. Audubon is known for his detailed sketches and paintings of birds in their natural habitats. Cole adds to our understanding of this artist and naturalist through the eyes of Celeste, the mouse, who brings her own perspective to the events in the story. Cole explores universal themes of friendship and loss while delving into some important issues surrounding how we treat each other and our living world. Set on a plantation in the early 1800s, A Nest for Celeste illustrates through drawings and text, the way things used to be. As a person who has a very hard time relating to history, A Nest for Celeste really brought the era to life for me in a way I could understand and appreciate. Cole brings forward the relevant details and paints a vivid picture of life long ago. It is truly incredible how much has changed in terms of landscape and technology and yet how, in the realm of relationships, things are still very much the same. Filled with stunning artwork that integrates into the story as its own invaluable layer, A Nest for Celeste is a heartwarming, life affirming read.

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