Dewie is a reading teacher at John Wayland Elementary School.
The book has historical fiction elements in that it explains to the reader how Audubon sacrificed the life of his models to pose them for drawings, to be shared with the world. I am at the part in the book where Young Joseph, his apprentice, struggles with this and wonders if drawing a lifeless bird really shows their true “living beauty.” I can see how some of the details about surrendering the life of the animals could be somewhat difficult for the reader/listener of the book. However, this is where one could discuss how in that time period, they didn’t have the cameras that we do today to capture beauty and details of the birds. Today it is not necessary to surrender the life of the animal to draw it. We may even introduce James Audubon and the Audubon Society, to our students, before reading the book to help bring out the historical details.
Although there is this historical piece, the book is more about the mouse’s struggles with friendships, relationships, choosing good over bad, and finding the true meaning of home. This is done through the relationships between animals and Celeste’s, the mouse, relationship with Joseph, the young apprentice.
The pencil drawing illustrations are incredible, not to mention the rich vocabulary and figurative language used throughout the novel. I can see this read aloud being read with the pictures being placed under the document camera for students to view. The illustrations are as rich as the vocabulary is vivid.
I am anxious to read the rest of the book. I might caution one sharing this with kindergarten and first grade. I am having several teachers read the book to determine if we should use it in those grades.