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The Stuff of Stars

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  847 ratings  ·  283 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
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4.09  · 
Rating details
 ·  847 ratings  ·  283 reviews

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Sarah Hannah
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
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.
Dec 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Marion Dane Bauer's poem about creation (the big BANG!) is illustrated with hand-marbled images by Ekua Holmes. Very visually arresting and thoughtful for children. Of course, who doesn't love being told they are made of stardust?
Edward Sullivan
Aug 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books, poetry, art
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.
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 illustrator ...more
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
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.
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
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
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 :)
Oct 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Ekua Holmes' illustrations are absolutely awe inspiring!
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.
Alyson (Kid Lit Frenzy)
The illustrations take this book to a new level.
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
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
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
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
Dec 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
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.
Dec 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved everything about this picture book. The rhythm pairs perfectly with the illustrations. Marvelous.
Emily Jackson
Feb 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
As much for the parents of those children, this is beautiful, and loverly.
Feb 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Poetic and gorgeous - perfect for Valentines Day!
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.
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 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.
Aug 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
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Marion Dane Bauer is the author of more than eighty 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 Honor Aw ...more