Friday, February 22, 2013

You are Stardust

You Are Stardust
By Elin Kelsey; illustrated by Soyeon Kim
32 pages, ages 4 and up
Owlkids Books, 2012
Theme: our connection with nature.

“You are stardust,” writes Elin Kelsey. “Every tiny atom in your body came from a star that exploded long before you were born.”

But we are connected to nature in other ways, too: the water we drink has been cycling from earth to sky and back again, quenching thirst for millions of years. We learn to talk the same way birds learn to sing, grow fastest in the summer (like the weeds), and shed out hair just like our animal friends. We are all connected, and we are all stardust.

What is neat about this book are the illustrations. Korean artist Soyean Kim built three-dimensional dioramas, and then photographed scenes from them to illustrate the book. You can watch the process here.

I also like that Elin Kelsey sees her book as a way to link kids with nature. “I hope this [book] gets covered with grass stains – carted outside to be read in a tree…” she writes. In an essay she confirms that, while her book is based on current science, she’s hoping that sharing it will lead to those “ magical, exploratory conversations that happen when life pauses for a moment and you find yourself curled up with your little one, sharing a book rich with ideas.”

Like other educators, Kelsey is concerned that children are becoming too wired up and digitally connected. “Early childhood is as a time to form deep connections with the natural world,” she explains. “Each time you stop to watch a bug make its way across a city sidewalk you reinforce the magical ties we share with other species.”

Beyond the book: There are so many possible art connections. Why not make your own 3-D diorama? Or collect some leaves, twigs, and other natural materials and use them to create a self-portrait?
Create a “kid’s bucket list” of things you and your kids want to do before they turn twelve. Here are some ideas to get you going: throw snow, go sledding, look inside a tree, raise a butterfly … there are so many ways to turn off the screen and connect with the world.
 This post is part of STEM Friday round-up. It's also part of PPBF (perfect picture book Friday), an event in which bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's site. She keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books. Review copy provided by publisher.


  1. I'm on board with the cycle of life/appreciation of nature theme. Thanks for sharing this book, Sue.

  2. What a lovely choice, Sue. I like that it has a lot of science in it and a strong link to nature. But as I read your review I felt a very spiritual side to the book in learning to be present and realizing our connectedness to al life. I want this book.

  3. Wonderful choice! I can't wait to pick this one up.

    By the way, you say, "You can watch the process here," but there's no link?

  4. I love the title and the cover. What clever illustrations! Very nice review. I'll be looking for this one. Thanks!

  5. What a wonderful book, Sue! Is it non-fiction? I love the whole concept, and agree that kids are getting too wired. I remember so clearly my step-son at age 3 utterly absorbed in watching a line of ants cross the driveway. Every child should have those opportunities! Thanks so much for adding this one to our list!