Friday, May 21, 2010

Nest for Celeste by Henry Cole

I was very excited about this one, as it's written by one of my favorite picturebook author/artists, Henry Cole. I liked some of it very much, but some of it not so much. I loved the illustrations, especially the delicate and exquisite drawings of Celeste's baskets. I found the beginning of the book spellbinding, as Celeste is forced to leave her safe and dark nest and find a new place to live.

However, when she meets Audubon's apprentice and the story branches out into a wider landscape, it just didn't work for me. I felt like Cole was imprinting modern mindsets on historical figures - would Audubon's apprentice really have mourned the death of the birds Audubon killed and posed to create his paintings? Celeste's horror of guns didn't feel quite right either. I prefer Holman's Cricket Winter for discussions of life and death from an animal perspective.

But the story is well-written and will appeal to children who like animal stories with an introspective flair. I bought this for my library before I read the story and I would still have purchased it after reading it, despite my reservations. I look forward to seeing more beginning chapter books and middle grade stories from Henry Cole. Celeste's Nest is a little advanced in vocabulary for a beginning chapter book, but the length and the illustrations make it accessible to a younger audience.

Verdict: I think fans of DiCamillo's Despereaux will love this one, and after they've read it I suggest introducing them to Felice Holman's Cricket Winter.

ISBN: 978-0061704109; Published February 2010 by Katherine Tegen Books; ARC provided by the publisher at ALA; Purchased for the library


Terry Doherty said...

That's an interesting point about Celeste's reaction to the gunshots. I actually was so taken aback by Audobon killing the birds and pinning them to boards that I guess I felt like Joseph got to speak for me.

I actually thought the bullying rats fell into that "modernization" category.

This is definitely not a story for those who don't like violence toward animals.

Jennifer said...

Well, the part about Audubon didn't shock me, because I had done some kind of project - I don't remember what - on him a long time ago so I knew how he got those pictures. Hmmm, will have to re-read the rats parts. Yeah, it may be a little violent for fans of Despereaux - maybe more for fans of Appelt's Underneath (which I haven't read, but sounds like it fits with this)