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Book Reviews

You Are Stardust

by Elin Kelsey; Soyeon Kim, illus.

In her first picture book, Elin Kelsey – a Canadian scientist, author, and consultant based in California – brings her passion for ecology to a younger audience. From the  opening statement, “You are stardust,” Kelsey goes on to reveal the intimate relationship between human beings and nature.

Beginning with astral explosions responsible for the atoms in our bodies, the book examines connections, big and small, between natural elements and the ways in which we learn, change, and grow.

One of the book’s most memorable passages compares the Earth’s exhalation of oxygen to the way our breath is “alive with the promise of flowers. Each time you blow a kiss to the world, you spread pollen that might grow to be a new plant.” Other relationships are more prosaic: “You learned to speak the same way baby birds learn to sing” and “your hair falls like autumn leaves.”

Kelsey’s style is simple but not condescending, and there are enough “wow” facts here to satisfy more cynical readers. Also to her credit, the author is not afraid to craft statements that spark more questions than answers. How is it possible that we drink the same water as dinosaurs? How do we grow new skeletons? You Are Stardust encourages kids to think beyond its pages.

Children may also be inspired to create their own dioramas after lingering over Soyeon Kim’s delicately crafted artwork. These delightful pieces, full of texture and movement, offer innovative interpretations of Kelsey’s text, and each turn of the page provides a whimsical new scene to explore.