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A Nest for Celeste: A Story About Art, Inspiration, and the Meaning of Home
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A Nest for Celeste: A Story About Art, Inspiration, and the Meaning of Home

(Celeste #1)

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  3,390 ratings  ·  548 reviews
Celeste is not your average mouse. She lives alone, quietly weaving baskets with creative flair under the floor boards of the Oakley Plantation. However, Celeste’s world turns upside down with the arrival of the great naturalist John James Audubon and his assistant Joseph, who have come to study and paint the birds of the Louisiana bayou. Their arrival coincides with Celes ...more
Hardcover, 342 pages
Published February 23rd 2010 by Katherine Tegen Books
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MissBecka Gee
I loved this book!
I always think it's clever to have a true story of humans told through an adorable animal's POV.
In this case it is a cutie patootie mouse named Celeste.
This was exciting, sad, funny, adorable and highly interesting!
The soft lines of the black & grey illustrations only added to the whimsy of Celeste's story.
There were a couple scenes of graphic violence and/or death, so be sure to read this before handing it off to any tiny humans.
Margo Tanenbaum
Jun 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I have wondered for a long time about the relationship between mice and children's books. Few people like the little critters in real life, unless as fodder for science experiments, yet mice are the heroes of more children's books than you can shake a piece of cheese at. I wouldn't be surprised if someone has written a graduate thesis on this topic.

In A Nest for Celeste, Celeste joins a pantheon of unforgettable mice heroes and heroines in both children's novels and picture books. Anyone who lo
Apr 01, 2010 rated it liked it
It took me a while to figure out what bothered me about "Celeste," and I think it has to do with anthropomorphism. On one end of the anthropomorphism scale is the toad-in-a-waistcoat. In toad-in-a-waistcoat the animal is simply a stand-in for a human character; references to real animal behavior, such as lily pad homes or cricket lunches, are thrown in for cuteness's sake. The other end of the anthropomorphic scale is the equivalent of someone at the zoo pounding on a snake's display case. It's ...more
Destinee Sutton
In the style of Hugo Cabret, this book features large pencil drawings that complement the text. The drawings are really wonderful in their detail and, I think, the most enjoyable part of the book. I also liked the little mouse Celeste herself. Though she never really came alive on the page, what we saw of her was lovable, and her journey to find a home and a friend is compelling.

Ok, now I'm done being nice. I have to say, right off the bat I was not a fan of the second half of the title. It's a
Jan 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Henry Cole's, A Nest for Celeste, is one of those rare finds among childrens books that has the potential to reach readers of all levels and ages. This is a wonderful story about the power of friendship, the sense of purpose and the need to have and find a place called 'home.' Cole weaves art, history, and science into a story that is hard to put down and a pleasure to read. His illustrations are reminiscent of Garth Williams and David Selznick and go beyond his rich text. This is a book that is ...more
Aug 08, 2011 rated it liked it
This is my first experience with the work of author/illustrator Henry Cole. A Nest for Celeste was actually on my list of 2010 books that I might have or might not have gotten around to eventually, depending on how things went, but I'm very happy that I chose to read it. Whether judging by the story itself or the awesome pencil art that liberally decorates the novel inside and out, this book is a wonderful experience for readers of any age. It's a simple story that perfectly reflects the old-fas ...more
Danica Midlil
I took the time to read through several others' reviews of this book before writing one of my own. Many really liked the book and just as many really didn't, which is interesting all by itself. I also gained a topic from one review for a master's thesis if I ever need to write one: Mice in Children's Literature.
I'm a fan of mouse books as I've said in previous reviews. They can portray the tiny unknown observer of our lives so perfectly, complete with big ears and fuzzy little bodies. How endea
In 1939, Robert Lawson set a small mouse in Benjamin Franklin's hat to narrate a historical tale. Henry Cole now sets a small mouse named Celeste in the hat of young Joseph Mason, the apprentice of John James Audubon's assistant, while the two stay on a Louisiana plantation to paint the birds and foliage. The story, however, isn't Audubon's story or even the story of Joseph, still a young teenager away from home for the first time. This is the story of Celeste, a talented young basket-weaving mo ...more
Aug 26, 2021 rated it really liked it
Beautifully written and illustrated story full of adventure along with thoughtfulness and heart. The descriptions of nature are wonderful and I felt that I was right there with Celeste in her adventures. However, don't let the adorable cover fool you -- it has heaps of animal peril and angst, so if you have sensitive young readers, especially if they are sensitive to animals in peril, suffering or dying, I suggest previewing. I'll share some details here: A few animals are killed (one by a cat, ...more
Mar 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is my first Henry Cole book and was it ever a delight. It's based on the four month visit of John James Audubon and his 13 year old assistant Joseph's visit at Oakley Plantation near New Orleans. The story revolves around the sweetest little mouse, Celeste (I just love her name) and her getting to know Joseph as well as her encounters with the home's cat. She meets some enchanting birds with great personalities and learns the meaning of friendship. Henry Cole's website is such fun, henrycol ...more
Kris - My Novelesque Life
(Review Not on Blog)

For a person who gives the death glare to mice in real life, I love stories about mice! First of all, I loved the pencil sketches in this book. I went through the book just admiring those at first. A Nest for Celeste is a historical fiction novel with real life characters of John James Audubon and his assistant, Joseph. I enjoyed the story and loved that it had some historical aspects to it other than just set in a different time period. I am looking forward to
Jody Timmins
This book should not be in print; it tells lies about American history and erases the experiences -- in fact, it often erases the existence -- of African-Americans.

This story is set on Oakley Plantation in 1821. The main character is a sentient mouse who can weave baskets, talk to other animals, and befriend Joseph Mason, the teenage assistant of John James Audubon. Mason and Audubon are real people; Oakley Plantation is a real place.

Over the course of the story, the author goes into great detai
Jul 05, 2010 rated it did not like it
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This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 04, 2017 rated it liked it
Shades of The Invention of Hugo Cabret. A fat, very heavily illustrated (even similar style, the soft B&W pencil), historical fiction, with a brave main character who is basically alone in the world. The real-life character in this case draws birds instead of makes films, but in both instances he is creative and at least a bit eccentric. This didn't do much for me, but maybe because I was distracted by the comparison, so I'll round up my 2.5 star rating.

Otoh, Cole's writing intrigues, and I will
C.J. Milbrandt
Told from the point of view of a mouse. Celeste only wants a nice, safe home and enough food to eat, but when important guests come to the house in which she's made a home, her life is changed by a gentle boy who treats her kindly.

A slice-of-life animal story with a varied cast of critters, set up against historical events surrounding the travels and artistry of Mr. Audubon, who is famous for his illustrations of North American birds. This whole story is gorgeously illustrated. Art on every pag
May 07, 2010 rated it liked it
As usual, I don't know if this should be 3 or 4 stars... maybe 3 1/2 would split the difference. Anyway, the story is nice, if a bit forgettable, but the illustrations are wonderful and more than make up for any lack in the writing! It is impossible to not fall in love with Celeste. She is just so cute, and most of the other animals in the drawings are just as endearing.
Dec 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This was one of family read aloud selections.. we really enjoyed it.. the illustrations were wonderful... we landed up learning quite a bit about Audubon... and grew to love the wee little heroine of the story... definitely recommended.. I was quite sad to see that it didn't win a Newbery medal, as I felt it should have.....
May 26, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: animals, nature
3 1/2 stars. The story is sweet and I think I'd have loved it when I was 10 or so. My favorite part, though, is the art. ...more
Betsy Cypress
Mar 02, 2022 rated it it was amazing
The rating is from eight children, ages 5-12. My 16 year old son could not tolerate an anthropomorphic mouse and much preferred to read Plato and his chemistry books, so he did not join in. I will say it really held the attention of even the youngest girls - not an easy task when they love to run and play!
This a sweet story, but I would not have rated it 5 stars myself. The 10 year old girl said it is now one of her favorite books and the 11 year old girl begged me to order the sequel (which I d
May 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is a heartwarming tale of a little mouse named Celeste who longs for a place she can call home and friends to ease her loneliness. On her adventures, Celeste encounters many obstacles (bullying mice, getting swept away by the wind, escaping the house cat's clutches), but her endurance and resourcefulness saves her on many occasions and leads her to befriend a diverse group of friends; human and neighborhood creatures. In the end, Celeste matures from being a timid to a brave mouse who finds ...more
Katja Labonté
5+ stars & 6/10 hearts. This book. It is so, so beautiful and sweet. The illustrations are perfect, and the story is so whimsical! <3 (Note that there are some euphemisms and one place where Audubon swears in French). There are some lovely descriptions... of music and the world and the river... Joseph is a darling and I loved his interactions with Celeste. And Lafayette is so much fun. xD This is definitely a must-read for anyone and you will not regret purchasing it! (The hardcover version is b ...more
Jun 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book .. partly because it was THE chapter book that has inspired my daughter to explore the delightful world of books (beyond the simple easy readers and bridging books).

A Nest for Celeste was a great summer read ... providing us with inspiration for our own study of birds and of Audubon himself. The concepts of bullying and the methods used by Audubon provided much for discussion. Henry Cole's delightful illustrations encouraged us to try our hand at charcoal.
A Nest for Celeste A Story About Art, Inspiration, and the Meaning of Home by Henry Cole
Yuliana Gallardo
Mar 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I really liked this book because it was nice of how he had to be in his owners pocket the whole time and how the owner treated him really nice like a person. I recommend this book to everyone because tit has different type of feelings and art. That's why I gave it a five star. It was about a mouse that always weaved baskets he lived in the attic, in a sock, in a cage, and in Joseph's pocket (owner). Also, that his best friend which was a human ( Joseph) had a friend that was not Celeste's and te ...more
Sara Hollar
Jul 12, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Wow SUCH a sweet story!! There are illustrations on almost every page, so this would be a great book to read aloud to younger kids. The story was about a sweet mouse named Celeste who makes friends with Joseph, a boy who is John James Audobon's assistant. You learn about how he painted his incredible birds (can I just say! I never thought about how you would paint a bird before cameras! So fascinating.) and follow Celeste on her adventures. We all loved this story! ...more
Sep 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was beautiful— both the story and illustrations. I loved how it told part of the history of Audubon and his assistant and their controversial way of illustrating the birds of North America before there were cameras. The animal relationships were so sweet. And holy crap — it even included an Ivory-billed Woodpecker! I was sold with that. Lovely and historically interesting.
Jul 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was an adorable story of Celeste the mouse 🐭 as she learns of love friendship and what they truely mean but she has has some grand adventures of her own and she is a talented little mouse as well .. I enjoyed every minute of this story and the illustrations were amazing a must read for all .
Leah Kessler
If you like reading about sad mice this book is for you.

The illustrations are phenomenal. Six stars.
Jun 01, 2022 rated it really liked it
A cute little story about the adventures of a mouse as she observes John Audubon and his assistant, Joseph, drawing birds in 1821. Celeste meets a few characters along her journey to try and make a comfortable home, but Joseph, who lets her sleep in his pocket and takes her on adventures, is her most special companion.
Mar 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A sweet night time read for my 9 year old daughter and I to enjoy together. The historical and winsome nature of this story coupled with remarkable illustrations made it lovely. Now my daugther is off reading Celeste's next adventure, at a faster pace than we read this one! ...more
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Henry Cole was a celebrated science teacher for many years before turning his talents to children's books. He has worked on nearly one hundred and fifty books for children, including Nesting, Unspoken, Big Bug, A Nest for Celeste, Jack's Garden, and On Meadowview Street. Henry loves being outside where he can sketch and write. ...more

Other books in the series

Celeste (2 books)
  • Another Quest for Celeste

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  As dedicated readers already know, some of the best and most innovative stories on the shelves come from the constantly evolving realm of...
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“At that moment there were two feelings inside Celeste's tiny, rapidly beating heart that made her feel as full, and as empty, as a gourd. The sheer beauty of this moment was perfect and sublime. But she was alone.” 3 likes
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