You Are Stardust begins by introducing the idea that every tiny atom in our bodies came from a star that exploded long before we were born. From its opening pages, the book suggests that we are intimately connected to the natural world; it compares the way we learn to speak to the way baby birds learn to sing, and the growth of human bodies to the growth of forests.
Award-winning author Elin Kelsey — along with a number of concerned parents and educators around the world — believes children are losing touch with nature. This innovative picture book aims to reintroduce children to their innate relationship with the world around them by sharing many of the surprising ways that we are all connected to the natural world.
Grounded in current science, this extraordinary picture book provides opportunities for children to use their imaginations and wonder about some big ideas. Soyeon Kim’s incredible diorama art enhances the poetic text, and her creative process is explored in full on the reverse side of the book’s jacket, which features comments from the artist. Young readers will want to pore over each page of this book, exploring the detailed artwork and pondering the message of the text, excited to find out just how connected to the Earth they really are.
Listed as one of the 13 best picture books of 2013, environmental writer Elin Kelsey and Toronto-based Korean artist Soyeon Kim seek to inspire cosmic awe in kids in You Are Stardust :
“Everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was … lived there — on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam,” Carl Sagan famously marveled in his poetic Pale Blue Dot monologue, titled after the iconic 1990 photograph of Earth. The stardust metaphor for our interconnection with the cosmos soon permeated popular culture and became a vehicle for the allure of space exploration. There’s something at once incredibly empowering and incredibly humbling in knowing that the flame in your fireplace came from the sun.
According to School Library Journal, bright dioramas created with pen-and-ink, pencil crayon, watercolor, dried flowers, and cut paper fancifully illustrate this exploration of human beings and the world around them.
Beginning with stardust, the economical text takes readers from their atoms all the way to their relationship with the natural environment. Each page attempts to shock or surprise: “The water swirling in your glass/once filled the puddles/where dinosaurs drank.” “You may sprout even taller/in the spring and summer, just/like the plants in your garden.” Readers learn interesting facts about themselves and are urged to make parallels to the planet at large. Meanwhile paper cutouts of children travel from page to page in the mixed-media dioramas, illustrating the text’s assertions in a fantastical way. The art and text don’t quite come together seamlessly in the book’s design, but each one provides much to consider and absorb. While striving to make these big connections in nature, the text presents thoughtful ideas but sometimes anthropomorphizes the animals.
The inventive three-dimensional dioramas of artist Soyeon Kim, this remarkable picture book reveals ties that are often sensed yet seldom explained. An author’s note includes a link that explores the science behind the broad statements in the book. And in a world dominated by technology, never have these incredible connections between children and nature been worth exploring.