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

Henry Cole, Author, Henry Cole, Illustrator
Henry Cole, Author, Henry Cole, Illustrator . HarperCollins/Tegen $16.99 (342p) ISBN 978-0-06-170410-9
Reviewed on: 02/08/2010
Release date: 02/01/2010
Library Binding - 342 pages - 978-0-06-170411-6
Paperback - 342 pages - 978-0-06-170412-3
Ebook - 352 pages - 978-0-06-199200-1
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Fantasy and natural history blend comfortably in illustrator Cole’s (Jack’s Garden ) first novel, as a Louisiana plantation—where wildlife artist John James Audubon and his young assistant, Joseph, stayed for several months in 1821—provides the setting for this story of a gentle, brave mouse’s search for a home. Persecuted by bad-tempered rats and on the run from a predatory house cat, Celeste is rescued by Joseph, who nurtures and confides in her, carrying her in his pocket while he and Audubon seek birds and plants to illustrate. The volume and cinematic quality of Cole’s naturalistic pencil drawings recall The Invention of Hugo Cabret ; they pull readers into Celeste’s world, capturing her vulnerability, courage, and resourcefulness (an expert basket weaver, she constructs her own means of rescue when lost). Away from humans, Celeste converses freely with other animals; in Joseph’s presence, however, Celeste bears witness to the cruel (by contemporary standards) methods Audubon used to create his drawings, one of a few moments that might trouble more sensitive readers. Evocative illustrations, compelling characters, and thoughtful reflections on the nature of home combine to powerful effect. Ages 8–12. (Mar.)

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