The Stuff of Stars
The Stuff of Stars
Illustrated
by Ekua Holmes
Candlewick Press, 2018
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Synopsis

In an astonishing unfurling of our universe, Newbery Honor winner Marion Dane Bauer and Caldecott Honor winner Ekua Holmes celebrate the birth of every child.

Before the universe was formed, before time and space existed, there was … nothing. But then … BANG! Stars caught fire and burned so long that they exploded, flinging stardust everywhere. And the ash of those stars turned into planets. Into our Earth. And into us. In a poetic text, Marion Dane Bauer takes readers from the trillionth of a second when our universe was born to the singularities that became each one of us, while vivid illustrations by Ekua Holmes capture the void before the Big Bang and the ensuing life that burst across galaxies. A seamless blend of science and art, this picture book reveals the composition of our world and beyond—and how we are all the stuff of stars.

Reviews

Carl Sagan’s famous quote, “We are made of star stuff,” is brought to life in a captivating picture book that will be cherished by people of all ages. Mesmerizing illustrations are a perfect fit for this story, which tells of the beginning of our universe and of life itself, starting with a small floating speck that suddenly explodes: “In a trillionth of a second … our universe was born.” All the colors of the rainbow appear in Holmes’s (Out of Wonder, 2017) glorious creations, which use hand-marbled paper and collage, at times resembling batik and sometimes oil on water with swirls of unmixed colors. Placed over some illustrations are collage figures of humans, fossils, and animals. In one particularly lovely moment, the beginning of life in the womb subtly echoes of the beginning of the universe; “Then one day … in the dark, in the dark, in the deep deep dark, another speck floated, invisible as dreams, special as Love.” Bauer’s (Winter Dance, 2017) lyrical free-verse love song to Earth, to the listener, and to all creatures is accessible to everyone living on “one lucky planet, a fragile blue ball we call Earth.” (Maryann Owen, Booklist, starred review)

It's a stunning achievement to present to readers the factual events that created the birth of the universe, the planet Earth, and life on Earth with such an expressive, powerful creativity of words paired with illustrations so evocative of the awe and magic of the cosmos. But then the story goes one brilliant step further and gives the birth of a child the same beginning, the same sense of magic, the same miracle. Wow. (Kirkus Reviews,starred review)

In spare, supple verse, Newbery Honor author Bauer (Winter Dance) tells a big story...In a brilliant stroke of visual imagination, Caldecott Honor artist Holmes (Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets) uses the swirls and waves of marbled paper to represent the ebb and flow of cosmic matter. Her spreads appear to move and shift on a grand scale, while Bauer suggests that, just possibly, the power of creation and the power of love are not so different. (Publishers Weekly, starred review)

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