Friday, August 17, 2012

Old-Fashioned Animal Tale A Little Dull For My (Always Discerning) Tastes

(Image from Barnes & Noble)   

Although she lives inside a grand plantation house, Celeste longs for a real home. The tiny, timid mouse yearns for a place where she can nestle, safe from rat bullies and the threat of the housecat's claws.  A cage isn't exactly what she has in mind, but that's where she ends up after she's forced from her nest under the dining room floorboards.  Captivity, it turns out, isn't so bad.  Not when your captor is a nice boy like Joseph Mason.  Joseph's staying at the plantation while he and his teacher, John James Audubon, study the local wildlife.  Curled up inside Joseph's pocket, Celeste gets to experience things she never even imagined, things like the great outdoors, the perplexing behavior of humans, the excitement of flying like an osprey and, most of all, true friendship.  But when Joseph finishes his work in Louisiana and returns to Ohio, what will happen to Celeste?

Although I expected A Nest for Celeste by Henry Cole to be a sweet, simple tale, it actually delves into a fairly dark subject.  Not only does it discuss animal cruelty, but it paints a famous naturalist in a rather unflattering light (Audubon, according to Cole's Author's Note, killed almost all of the birds he painted so lovingly).  At its heart, though, the tale is exactly what it purports to be:  "A Story About Art, Inspiration, and the Meaning of Home."  Readers will sympathize with the book's kind heroine, although they may find that her story drags a bit.  Although A Nest for Celeste is a quick read with lots of illustrations, I yawned through a good portion of it.  I'm not sure how appealing this one will be for children, if even I found it a little dull.  Or maybe I'm full of prunes and they'll totally love it.  At any rate, I wasn't all that impressed.  

(Readalikes:  Um, I can't really think of anything.  Can you?)

Grade:  C+

If this were a movie, it would be rated:  PG for scenes of peril and scenes involving animal cruelty (not horribly graphic, but still might be disturbing for young children)

To the FTC, with love:  I borrowed A Nest for Celeste from the library at my kids' elementary school as part of my volunteer work with the school's reading program.   

1 comment:

  1. Shame that it's just okay, but I enjoyed reading your review. How sad that artists used to feel the need to kill the animals they painted.

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