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The Stuff of Stars

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  1,335 ratings  ·  415 reviews
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
Hardcover, 34 pages
Published September 4th 2018 by Candlewick Press (first published 2018)
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Average rating 4.10  · 
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 ·  1,335 ratings  ·  415 reviews

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Oct 15, 2018 rated it liked it
I'm really sad that the authors of what could have been a gorgeous non denominational book about the wonder of life and the interconnectedness of the universe decided it had to include 'weighty as God' putting itself squarely into capital G and singular territory and ruling out any non-theist or non-monotheistic individuals.

It's still beautiful, it just has a degree of exclusiveness it really didn't need.
It is a poem! In a picturebook! With marbled illustrations! ABOUT THE BIG BANG!!!!
This was a disappointment.

Though Ekua Holmes's brilliant artwork is lovely, I was annoyed by the book. It was apparently too much to ask to have a completely secular book about the Big Bang - God has to be named to appease the creationists who are going to despise the book anyway. And, then there's the fact that the idea for the book is obviously snatched from this Carl Sagan quote:

“The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made
I have a shelf on Goodreads called "abstract idea," which is for picture books that I admire for how they visually represent something abstract. Here, illustrator Ekua Holmes may get the top prize, as she faces the challenge of illustrating the birth of the universe, the earth, and a child, described in lovely, spare verse by Marion Dane Bauer. Her images (hand-marbled paper and collage assembled digitally) dazzle the eyes with swirls of color and pattern. I expect Caldecott buzz for this one, t ...more
Jan 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Readers Who Appreciate Beautiful Artwork and/or Are Looking for Picture-Books About the Big Bang
A simple but poetic text exploring the birth of the universe, the formation of the planets and the solar system, the eventual evolution of life, and the birth of an individual child - the reader and/or listener, perhaps? - is paired with astonishingly beautiful artwork in The Stuff of Stars. Each two page spread features a few sentences from author Marion Dane Bauer, who won a Newbery Honor for her children's novel, On My Honor , as well as the hand-marbled paper and collage art of illustrato ...more
Nancy Kotkin
Stunning collage-style illustrations accompany a beautifully worded poem about how the earth and life exploded into being. This captivating picture book is one of my 2019 Caldecott favorites.
Alyssa Nelson
Sep 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
*I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through LibraryThing Early Reviewers in exchange for an honest review.*

This book is absolutely stunning. Each page is an explosion of color and wonderful to look at. This is a picture book for children of all ages–very young children will love all the colors in the pictures. Young children will enjoy the story of the universe and the message that we are all made of the same stuff as stars.

The Stuff of Stars is a beautiful book that’s a grea
Katie Fitzgerald
This poetic and visually explosive picture book describes the big bang in lyrical text that captures the beauty and drama of the beginning of the universe. My almost-five-year-old was fascinated by the illustrations and though the book does not mention religion at all, she immediately attributed the images she saw to God, which made me feel good about her understanding of the relationship between faith and science. This book makes the abstract concept of how the universe came into being into som ...more
Edward Sullivan
Aug 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books, art, poetry
The creation of the universe, the solar system, and Earth are stunningly and spectacularly imagined in verse and art.
Feb 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens-ya
Lovely book with evocative abstract illustrations depicting life from the Big Bang to the birth of the reader.
Dec 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: love, space
This book is absolutely stunning and so beautiful to look at, each page explodes with colour and tells a beautiful story as well :)
Jul 04, 2019 rated it liked it
I'm sure that a lot of people rave about the illustrations but they just seemed 'off' to me. Stunning, original, but just not quite right. I especially couldn't make out the primary cover image of two people for the longest time.

The poem, the text, is fine. I'd like to have read it w/out the distracting pictures; I might have liked it a lot if I'd read it straight. My inner scientist wants to dispute the use of the word 'speck' for that which existed before the beginning.... but it's not entirel
Tippy Jackson
A beautiful book explaining the interconnectivity of the universe and how we're all the stuff of stars. Very pretty.

I read this book as part of the Coretta Scott King Book Awards 50th anniversary challenge promoted through the LA Public Libraries.
Sep 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A truly unique story with very abstract art about the birth of the universe, our planet, animals and humans
Jun 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
One of the most beautiful narrations of the Big Bang that I've ever read. The pages will leave you breathless. ...more
Feb 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
This picture book touched me so much. Gorgeous illustrations and adept use of the page turn for dramatic effect. I had chills, my eyes teared up. I want to buy it for all of my niecephews.
Sep 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
This absolutely gorgeous picture book follows the journey of a tiny speck through the big bang. The speck becomes stardust, and the stardust becomes planets, plants, animals, and eventually, YOU (or the baby/child you are reading this to). Bauer's text has a rhythmic cadence to it that lends itself to reading out loud, and Holmes' illustrations give a dreamlike atmosphere to the book. The marbled pictures are wonderful, although maybe a bit too abstract for younger children - but still provide g ...more
Feb 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Lush, gorgeous book about the Big Bang theory for children, starting with a speck and leading to dinosaurs and humans and then YOU, the reader. My 5 year old loves having it read to him, and it really fit in well with a lot of recent discussions he has initiated about his memories before he had a body and his belief that he will be love in the universe after his body is gone. I was a little surprised at the mention of God (capitalized) as I had assumed it would be a non-theistic book, but it wor ...more
Feb 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
I have very mixed feelings about this book. Clearly it is a work of art, from the outrageously talented illustrator who has already won a ton of awards to the gorgeous, poetic word choices. I think it's bound to attract some controversy in school libraries where patrons are dissatisfied with books that teach explicitly about the big bang and evolution, but that's why this book is so great! It's so artsy and de-politicized, despite being a controversial topic.

Ultimately, I worry that books like
Aug 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
Alyson (Kid Lit Frenzy)
The illustrations take this book to a new level.
I would rather see this subject done by Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm. I think it would have been more successful done by that pair. Nonetheless, the artwork is really nice. It likely deserved the King Illustration award. I was less happy with the text. It was too advanced for preschoolers and too abstract for many of the primary grades but likely too simple once you were in about fifth grade and could follow the science of what was happening. It was very pretty to read. I simply am not sure who ...more
Ruby Khan
Sep 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I really, really enjoyed this book; both reading it and enjoying the colourful, vibrant illustrations. It is a perfect book for detailing the Big Bang in simple steps. It also includes key science terminology, such as 'mitochondria' which can be explained in KS2. I also really like how the overall message of the book is that each of us is special and that we have been created purposefully.
This book would also be a really good basis to create some poetry, perhaps surrounding science, as the colo
Sep 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
In a NASA program I run in my library we explore the elements that make up the universe. The activities culminate in the discovery that humans are made of star stuff. This story is a work of poetry, of art, and an amazing introduction to the science of our universe. As a reader I felt a sense of calm, wonder and connection to our universe. I was delighted as parts of the illustrations felt revealed instead of seen at first glance, and am curious about their creation. Beautiful words and illustra ...more
Dec 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
GORGEOUS. This is an amazingly illustrated picture book that, through poetry, tells the story of the creation of the universe and turns it into a beautifully welcoming tribute to a new child. Stunning.
Seraphim Muir
Jan 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful pictures
Makes science more interesting
Lots of metaphors and illustrations
The illustrations help to understand the difficult concept of science
Is probably okay to use in all public schools but it may not for private schools
Can use it for vocabulary
Just like the birth of the world, revel in the birth of children.

The Coretta Scott King Award-Winning Illustrations (of Acrylic Drip Painting) make this a compelling and lovely book a celebration, that we are the stuff of stars!

5 Star Illustrations
Oct 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
A simple stardust, big bang theory story with gorgeous artwork to accompany the story.
Dec 16, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mock-caldecott
Stunning artwork, but not really a kids' book. Also the idea of the Big Bang hurts my head. ...more
Dec 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Lovely verse on how of all the people in the world, the teller is so glad to have the listener in their life.
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Marion Dane Bauer is the author of more than one hundred books for young people, ranging from novelty and picture books through early readers, both fiction and nonfiction, books on writing, and middle-grade and young-adult novels. She has won numerous awards, including several Minnesota Book Awards, a Jane Addams Peace Association Award for RAIN OF FIRE, an American Library Association Newbery Hon ...more

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