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A Nest for Celeste: A Story About Art, Inspiration, and the Meaning of Home Hardcover – Deckle Edge, February 23, 2010


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 730L (What's this?)
  • Series: AWARDS: Charlie May Simon Children's Book Awards 2013
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books; 1 edition (February 23, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061704105
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061704109
  • Product Dimensions: 7.3 x 5.9 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #370,209 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, March 2010: 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. Henry Cole’s A Nest for Celeste is a perfect choice for middle readers who enjoy animal adventure tales with a twist.  --Lauren Nemroff

From School Library Journal

Grade 3–5—At Oakley Plantation near New Orleans, temporary home to naturalist John James Audubon and his assistant, Joseph Mason, lives a mouse named Celeste. Industrious and sweet, she forages for food in the dining room and weaves baskets of grass. Unfortunately, she is harassed by resident rats, and, attempting to assuage their hunger, she is trapped by a cat and unable to return to her nook under the floorboards. A chase brings her to Mason's room and there develops a friendship between the homesick apprentice and the little mouse. It unfolds that Audubon is no PETA advocate—he hires hunters to shoot birds so that he can pose them for his drawings. Some of the story is devoted to Celeste's persuading captured birds to pose of their own volition and so save themselves. The theme espoused by the book's subtitle is not well developed, however. Celeste does search for a home, and readers are shown the two naturalists drawing and feeling frustrated when the art does not come easily, but Cole's description of the emotions inherent in the theme does not evoke them in readers. The story's bittersweet conclusion is similarly unsatisfying. What sets the book apart are the charming pencil illustrations that appear throughout, sometimes filling whole pages—a story about making art, full of art.—Lisa Egly Lehmuller, St. Patrick's Catholic School, Charlotte, NC
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

More About the Author

Henry Cole is the celebrated illustrator of many books for children, including the Bad Boys series by Margie Palatini, and is also the author and illustrator of the novel A Nest for Celeste.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Beautiful illustrations and a wonderful story.
Steve Pishock
My children were all very captivated by the story and were always excited to get started reading the book each day.
sewin mama
I read this to my 3 and 4 year old daughters (a couple chapters each night) they LOVED it!
Yodsta

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Susan Lockrey on March 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As someone who has loved the great anthropomorphizing stories - Kenneth Grahame, E.B.White, George Selden, Robert O'Brien, Tor Seidler etc - I was naturally drawn to this book when told about it. Having a young daughter named Celeste made it even more attractive. And finally, to discover that it was extensively illustrated with many double-page spreads used as backdrops to the text whetted my appetite even more. Couldn't resist, so I bought it. And what a good thing I did. This is a modern classic. It is utterly wonderful. The astonishing suite of drawings matches anything done by Garth Williams, Ernest Shepherd and Fred Marcellino, and the story manages deftly to avoid the all-too-easy sentimental drivel that so many 'animal stories' disintegrate into. Its natural history detailing is a delight, the recreation of Audubon's biography is effortlessly achieved and the sub-group of other animals is completely convincing. For a book of this nature, with the extraordinary amount of work involved in producing 350 pages most of which are illustrated could have been a case of 'all very impressive but sadly rather dull'. But happily in Henry Cole's case, the inspiration completely dominates the perspiration. It is overwhelmingly an enchantment above all else, and so much better for it. As for the criticism by another critic of its poor quality paper, they need to see a psychiatrist. The paper in fact is of a lovely light quality and attractively deckle-edged. Two and a half year old children will rip any paper, even one reinforced with steel. My Celeste, at five, only now respects the physical properties of a book, and as a bibliophile, let me tell you, I've tried! This book should be a candidate for the Newbery Medal. It's a marvel. A true marvel.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By M. G. Gagliano VINE VOICE on April 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover
There couldn't be a better description than, "Beautifully illustrated". The illustrations are one of the reasons I will be mentioning this book over and over again.

Beside the beautiful sketches is a story about friendship, trust, loyalty and adventure. Now if that isn't enough to make a great children's book there is the "real story" weaved beautifully into this story about a mouse, a boy and a bird. John James Audubon (1785-1851) was a wildlife artist who captured and posed birds in order to document, sketched, and paint them. Now, we have The National Audubon Society whose mission is to conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on bird and other wildlife. There is also a magazine that bares his name.

What Henry Cole does with A Nest for Celeste is take history and embellish it with a lovely tale about a basket weaving mouse, who is looking for a home of her own all alone in this great big world. She is taken under the "pocket" of Joseph, (Audobon's young assistant). She makes friends, helps others and eventually shows Joseph and Audubon that you do not have to injure, or kill a bird to capture its beauty on canvas.

The book has 342 pages but the pictures (some of them full page, makes it go quick). Great chapter book for readers between 6-12, the pictures make it thrilling for the younger kids if you are reading to them and the older kids will love the idea of a big "kid" book. There are pictures, pictures and text and full "grown up" pages of story throughout the book. If I were a kid this would be the ideal read. Heck, it was the ideal read for me as an adult.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By GreenBeanTeenQueen on April 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover
About the Book: Celeste is a mouse who lives in a small room inside a house who spends her time making baskets. She is often bullied by two large rats who take her food and one day Celeste is sent further into the house than she's gone before. She befriends a young boy named Joseph, who is staying at the house with Mr. Audubon where they are drawing pictures of birds. Celeste meets many new friends along the way and discovers the meaning of home.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: A Nest for Celeste is somewhat reminiscent of The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, although Celeste is a likeable character from the start. But I felt the book lacked some of the magic and charm of Edward Tulane.

Each chapter has a little bit of it's own story, which I felt made the book a little disjointed and at times I didn't feel like everything was connected. Mr. Audubon's story is based on the real life artist who drew birds. He hunted and killed the birds and then pinned them in the position he wanted to paint them, and the author doesn't shy away from this in the book. If you have sensitive tweens, there may be some parts that are a little too much for them (there are vivid hunting scenes as well as drawings of the birds pinned to paper).

The drawings are beautiful and detailed and that's really where the book excels. I do think A Nest for Celeste would make a wonderful read aloud for parents and tweens. The book could also lend itself to great discussions on animals, science and what makes a home.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By M. ALM on April 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book sounded charming when I read the reviews and the excerpts but it was a hit with my granddaughter beyond my expectations. She is seven years old and read it with her mom. They both called me to say how very much they loved it. My granddaughter told her mom, when they came to the last page "I don't want it to be over !!" - I highly recommend this book.
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