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A NEST FOR CELESTE by Henry Cole Kirkus Star


A Story About Art, Inspiration, and the Meaning of Home

by Henry Cole & illustrated by Henry Cole

Age Range: 6 - 10

Pub Date: March 1st, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-06-170410-9
Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Starting outside a house, the reader’s viewpoint moves indoors page by page until there “sat Celeste, hunched over her work table” under the floorboards. Celeste’s a mouse, her nest cozy and treasured—until it becomes unsafe, forcing her to look elsewhere for her own sheltered spot to call home. Her antagonists are bullying rats, a housecat, a rainstorm and blustery humans hosting John James Audubon as their guest. Celeste befriends Audubon’s 15-year-old assistant, Joseph, advising birds how to pose for portraits (and becoming horrified when Audubon pins down wings to force positions). Cole’s complexly shaded pencil drawings are a wonder of shifting angle and scale. Often his pencil work wholly covers entire spreads; the type lies on top of the drawing without dominating the aesthetic. Some drawings are smaller, but the art steadily resides at the heart of this uniquely beautiful depiction of 1821 Lousiana (plantation house, wildlife, trees) and a sweet, guileless mouse searching for a nest and friends. A rare gift: a novel with artwork as whole and vital as a picture book’s. (afterword) (Animal fantasy. 6-10)