Cover Image

You Are Stardust by E. Kelsey

Kelsey, Elin. You Are Stardust. Illus. S. Kim. Toronto: Owlkids Books, 2012. Print.

This compellingly illustrated non-fiction book for children emphasizes the interconnected continuity present in the natural environment. Children, with their developing and magically amorphous sense of self, are a receptive audience for narratives that explore the complex relationships and natural cycles that they observe and are learning more about each day.

Elin Kelsey has created a flowing and natural text that conveys the complexity and wonder of natural history and ecological patterns. Canadian artist, Soyeon Kim's, artwork is spectacular and responsive to the text. Children will enjoy how Kim’s illustrations are not only fun and fascinating but also reveal much of the architecture used to construct them. Strings and wires are often clearly visible, supporting elements of the three-dimensional illustrations. Her interpretations are effective, even charmingly literal, in some cases - little bouquets of dried blossoms accompany the text, "Your breath is alive with the promise of flowers" but also convey the more abstract natural cycles being described in Kelsey's text.

Conveying scientific information to children in a lyrical and accessible way has great educational potential and, if it achieves the right tone, doesn't create a sense of distance from, or mastery over, nature, but embeds humans intimately within their environment. The potential to create an intuitive and rigorous sense of conservational responsibility may lie in the exposure of children to a nuanced exploration of scientific ideas. Many concepts that children seem naturally curious about - the shaping and changing of water, clouds and earth - are explored in You are Stardust, and the engaging and lively book design and illustrations further the impact of the text.

Highly Recommended : 4 out of 4 stars
Reviewer: Matilda Roche

Matilda spends her days lavishing attention on the University of Alberta’s metadata but children’s illustrated books, literature for young adults and graphic novels also make her heart sing. Her reviews benefit from the critical influence of a four year old daughter and a one year old son – both geniuses. Matilda’s super power is the ability to read comic books aloud.