Celeste is a little mouse who lives below the floorboards of a plantation house, contentedly weaving baskets. One day she finds her mostly peaceful life is threatened when the family cat blocks the entry to her nest! Celeste is forced to climb upwards, and finds herself in the room of Joseph Mason, the 13-year-old apprentice of renowned naturalist John James Audubon. Joseph, who is a bit homesick, is delighted to have Celeste stay with him and carries her around in his pocket. Audubon and Mason only stayed at the plantation for a few months searching for, discovering and sketching the native plants and animals before moving on. So, where will Celeste find a new nest when they leave? This story can be charming, but young readers may have to ask what some of the words mean: adrenaline, botanicals, bemusement, etc. Also, the account of the killing, posing and pinning up of a woodpecker to allow for its sketching may be a little strong for some kids (although it does describe how artists were able to study animals and to sketch them accurately.) The pencil drawings throughout the book are very well done and are very effective in supporting the theme and story line.
Review by: Ann M. Mills, M.S.Ed.