Friday, May 4, 2012

A Nest for Celeste: A Novel about Art, Inspiration, and the Meaning of Home

A Nest for Celeste: A Novel about Art, Inspiration, and the Meaning of Home
Henry Cole
Katherine Tegan Books, 2010
$16.99, Hardcover
April 5th, 2012

Genre: Historical, Animal Fantasy
Age: 8+
Description: Celeste is a small brown mouse with a girl for weaving baskets who is trying to find a new home after being ousted out of her nest by two unfriendly rats. When Joseph, the young apprentice to Mr. John James Audubon, visits the Louisiana Plantation for a few months in 1821, Celeste finds a new friend as Joseph’s inspiration for his drawings. Soon Celeste is living a new life as she learns more about Joseph and his art, makes some new friends (such as Lafayette, an osprey, and Cornelius, a thrush) and soon learns the meaning of true friendships.
Opinion: This is a beautifully crafted novel with many of the illustrations telling the story themselves (much like the combination of text and picture of more popular novels like The Invention of Hugo Cabret). While a long novel (350+ pages), I breezed through it in two hours. It is reminiscent of other classic animal tales, such as Charlotte’s Web and Watership Down, and it doesn’t gloss over any of an animal’s hardships to survive—one of the evil rats is captured and eaten by the house cat, while Audubon is part of a hunting group that shoots down birds and then he pins their decomposing carcasses up to draw them “alive”. Some readers might be put off by the old-fashioned, simplistic tone. However, many animal lovers really will enjoy this beautiful novel.

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