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You Are Stardust Hardcover – September 11, 2012
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From School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2-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. An author's note includes a link that explores the science behind the broad statements in the book.-Julie Roach, Cambridge Public Library, MAα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Right away, Kelsey gets metaphysical: “You are stardust. Every tiny atom in your body came from a star that exploded long before you were born.” Cue the whoas. Kelsey then offers multiple examples of how we humans came from nature. “Like fish deep in the ocean, you called salt water home. You swam inside the salty sea of your mother’s womb.” Yes, it’s peculiar, as is the assertion that your glass of water is the same water sipped by thirsty dinosaurs. Yet these oddball leaps at marrying the natural world with typical kid thoughts are evocative: “Each time you blow a kiss to that world, you spread pollen that might grow into a new plant.” Kim’s diorama art—entire scenes constructed of real flowers, leaves, and other materials inside wooden boxes and featuring characters suspended from string—is photographed with a shallow depth of field, making images more three-dimensional than actual 3-D. Kim’s way of literally tying us to nature is as abstract, and as intriguing, as Kelsey’s. The jacket flip-side offers how-she-did-it photos of each diorama. Grades K-2. --Daniel Kraus
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The artwork is superb! Each 2 page spread is a colorful diorama illustrating the text and my son (8) and I had fun figuring out the materials that were used in each piece.
We liked this book so much, we bought a second copy to give his Montessori classroom as a gift.
I think that the concepts introduced so gently and positively help set the foundation for other ventures into life science, astronomy, and physics. For instance, my son skinned his hand on the playground and, amidst the tears, told me it was ok because he would grow new skin, "just like in we are made of stardust, mummy."