professornana (professornana) wrote,
professornana
professornana

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A NEST FOR CELESTE by Henry Cole (Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins 2010) is subtitled: A STORY ABOUT ART, INSPIRATION, AND THE MEANING OF HOME. Celeste, our main character, is a mouse that has been cowed by two imposing rats who constantly demand that she feed them. She manages to escape to safer quarters upstairs in the house in which she lives. There she meets Joseph, an assistant to Mr. Audubon, a guest of the owners of the house. Joseph's job is to paint in the botanicals and backgrounds while Mr. Audubon renders the birds. Celeste is appalled to see that Audubon prefers to kill his specimens and then pose them in what he considers to be "life-like" positions. She helps Joseph see that sometimes observing something living provides more inspiration and more reality to paintings. <551>

What works here is not just the story of the plucky (that adjective truly does apply here) Celeste, though that is the heart of the story. Cole's remarkable pencil illustrations also convey much and add to and elaborate on the wild adventures of Celeste. The presence of the historic figures, the importance of wildlife and nature, the importance of friendship: all are explored in this chapter book perfect for reading aloud. Do show the illustrations as you read, though, and allow kids to pore over them as well.


As I was reading this novel, I was sending myself emails (NOTE TO SELF app for iPad is perfect for this) about other books that would appear on a reading ladder:

THE TALE OF DESPERAUX
BEN AND ME
ZORA AND ME
KEEPER
A DOG'S PURPOSE
THE GREAT AMERICAN MOUSICAL
POPPY (series by Avi)
Tags: bookaday, chapter books
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