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
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