Hello, friends. Today, I want to share with you a book that I happened upon in my local indie bookseller, Novel Idea. It’s a picture book called You Are Stardust, by Elin Kelsey with artwork by Soyeon Kim.
It blew my mind.
It starts with perfect, confident simplicity: “You are stardust. Every tiny atom in your body came from a star that exploded long before you were born.”
As it begins, so it continues. Every statement in the book is grounded in scientific fact. Every sentence is calm and minimal, yet a powerful spur to wonder. “You started life as a single cell. So did all other creatures on planet Earth.”
“Salt still flows through your veins, your sweat, and your tears. The sea within you is as salty as the ocean.”
“From ocean to sky to land and back again, the same water has been quenching thirsts for millions of years.”
“Each time you blow a kiss to the world, you spread pollen that might grow to be a new plant.”
I actually find it difficult to articulate how profound and inspiring I find this book. I want to gush. I want to buy a copy for every child I know. And I want to sit quietly and read and re-read it, and stare for hours at the exquisite illustrations by Soyeon Kim.
The book itself is packaged as a kind of gift. If you unwrap the dustjacket, you’ll find photos of each diorama Kim built, which were then photographed to create the illustrations. Kim offers notes on specific elements of each diorama: flowers picked from her garden and carefully dried, paper dyed and curled to look like waves. And the endpapers show some of Kim’s notes on her artistic process.
There’s also this video to walk you through the illustrations and how they changed as a result of conversations between Kim and Kelsey.
I hope you enjoy it. And then I hope you run out and buy/borrow a copy of You Are Stardust and let it blow your mind, too.