Nest for Celeste: A Story About Art, Inspiration, and the Meaning of Home. Henry Cole. 2010. HarperCollins. 342 pages.
Below the crackled and faded painting of a horse, beneath the heavy sideboard, under the worn carpet, and dusty floorboards of the dining room, sat Celeste, hunched over her worktable. She was weaving a basket from blades of dried grasses.
If you're a fan of the Tale of Despereaux, The Underneath, or Night Fairy, then you should consider reading Henry Cole's A Nest for Celeste. Who is Celeste? She's a mouse who doesn't quite have a place to call home. She's bullied by two rats--Trixie and Illianna--though we later learn that it are these rats who taught her to live in the big house, so they can't be all bad. When she's not being bullied by the rats or chased by the cat, Celeste likes to spend her time weaving baskets of all shapes and sizes. She uses these baskets when she's about the house. She gathers crumbs and other small remnants that only a mouse could appreciate--blades of grass, the occasional feather, etc. One day after a vigorous escape from the cat, Celeste finds a "better" home. But this home isn't a true home either. It's a boot. With an owner. Fortunately, it's owned by a young boy, Joseph, who appreciates just how cute and little and harmless she is. He calls her "Little One." And he likes to carry her with him in his pocket. Who is Joseph? He's a young boy who is an assistant to John James Audubon. For those unfamiliar with Audubon, he was a nineteenth century artist. He specialized in painting wildlife--birds. Did the birds love Audubon? Not so much. With good reason.
I didn't love this one. Not as much as I hoped anyway. It is beautifully illustrated. It's a novel about loneliness, friendship, and finding happiness where you can, when you can.
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews
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