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


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

Alethea Allarey

Official Links


 Written and illustrated by Henry Cole

Katherine Tegen Books, 2010 

2013-2014 Nominee - Intermediate


A beautifully illustrated novel about a mouse, her friendship with Audubon’s apprentice, and her search for home. Beneath the crackled and faded 
painting of a horse, underneath the worn and dusty floorboards of the dining room, lives Celeste, a mouse who spends her days weaving baskets, until one day she is thrust into the world above. Here Celeste encounters danger--and love--unlike any she’s ever imagined. She dodges a hungry cat and witnesses the brutality of hunting for the first time. She makes friends with a singing thrush 
named Cornelius, a talkative osprey named Lafayette, and Joseph, Audubon’s young apprentice. All the while, Celeste is looking for a new home. Is her home in the toe of a worn boot? Nestled in Joseph’s pocket? Or in the dollhouse in the attic, complete with mouse-size furniture perfect for Celeste? In the end, Celeste discovers that home is really the place deep inside her heart, where friendships live.

Meet the Author 

Henry Cole is the illustrator of many beloved books for children, including his own Jack’s Garden and On Meadowview Street. While growing up in Virginia, he enjoyed spending time outdoors, hiking in the woods and pretending he was Audubon. Sometimes he pretended he was an osprey. He still loves being outside, especially in his garden in Florida, where he loves to sketch and write. 

You can visit Cole online at


  • If you only had a few moments to leave your home, what would you pack? If you were going to be gone for two years, and had more time, what would you take? Two of the characters in this book encounter just such circumstances. Celeste, a beautiful mouse, and her best friend, Joseph find friendship and hope while facing challenging circumstances.
  • How many birds have you ever seen at one time? Can you imagine a flock of birds so large, it would darken the sky, and take nearly two days to pass over? During the time period of this book, this is a display that is anticipated yearly, and is not uncommon in North America.
  • Would you consider having a mouse for a friend? If you would, where would you keep it, and how would you care for it? If not, why not? In this story, young Joseph, apprentice to the famous John Audubon, makes just such a friend.
  • What are your thoughts on hunting birds? Would you prefer a camera, binoculars, or a gun for hunting birds? Why? Young Joseph and his best friend Celeste are quite shocked by the means used by Audubon to reproduce the true nature of birds in their natural habitat.


George, Jean Craighead. My Side of the Mountain. Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 1991.
Gray, William R. The Curious Naturalist. The National Geographic Society, 1991.
Howard, Joan. The Story of John J. Audubon. Kessinger Publishing, LLC, 2007.
Lewis, Gill. Wild Wings. Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, 2012
Schaefer, Lola M. Arrowhawk. Henry Holt & Company, 2004.

For more information, please check the 2013-2014 Resource Guide - Intermediate.

Book Trailer