What a beautiful little book. A Nest for Celeste: A Story about Art, Inspiration and the Meaning of Home by Henry Cole reminds me in some ways of The Rats of NIHM for its main mousy main character whose survival instincts and sheer luck and pluck shine through and of The Invention of Hugo Cabret for the lovely illustrations by Cole that become part of the story (although not quite in the same fashion as Brian Selznick, whose pictures are the story itself, not just a companion piece).
Most of all, A Nest for Celeste stands tall as its own story about a little mouse who survives, just barely, through the help of friends. The outside narrative arc of naturalist James John Audubon, and his work to document birds of America in illustrations, provides the reader with a little window into the world of the animals that Audubon and his assistant, Joseph, find and capture in order to draw them.
Celeste, a timid little thing, is drawn so perfectly by Cole, whose own illustration work peppers a lot of other books, that you can’t help but lose your heart to her, and wish her well on her journey of survival. Her encounters with other animals, including a pair of mean rats who get tehir due and some daring birds, provides just enough action and momentum that the story flows nicely forward. Her friendship with the boy, Joseph, is quite touching, as he finally finds a small friend he can confide in and Celeste finds a human protector she can rely upon and care for.
This is a wonderful little book that is certainly worth a read. Slip it into the hands of one of your more thoughtful readers. They won’t be disappointed.
Peace (in the quest for home),