You Are Stardust begins by introducing the idea that every tiny atom in our bodies came from a star that exploded long before we were born. From its opening pages, the book suggests that we are intimately connected to the natural world; it compares the way we learn to speak to the way baby birds learn to sing, and the growth of human bodies to the growth of forests. Award-winning author Elin Kelsey — along with a number of concerned parents and educators around the world — believes children are losing touch with nature. This innovative picture book aims to reintroduce children to their innate relationship with the world around them by sharing many of the surprising ways that we are all connected to the natural world. Grounded in current science, this extraordinary picture book provides opportunities for children to use their imaginations and wonder about some big ideas. Soyeon Kim’s incredible diorama art enhances the poetic text, and her creative process is explored in full on the reverse side of the book’s jacket, which features comments from the artist. Young readers will want to pore over each page of this book, exploring the detailed artwork and pondering the message of the text, excited to find out just how connected to the Earth they really are.


  • Short-listed, Green Book Festival Children's Book Award, Honorable Mention 2013
  • Winner, YABC Choice Awards, Non-fiction Picture Book Category 2012
  • Commended, Brain Pickings 13 Best Childrens, Illustrated & Picture Books of 2013 2013
  • Short-listed, Ontario Library Association, Blue Spruce Award 2013
  • Winner, Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator's Award 2013
  • Commended, Brain Pickings 13 Best Science & Technology Books of 2013 2013
  • Long-listed, Cybils Awards, Book App Category 2013
  • Commended, Parents' Choice Foundation Award 2013
  • Commended, A Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2012 Selection 2012
  • Commended, Canadian Children's Book Centre Best Book for Kids and Teens 2013
  • Short-listed, Childrenʼs Literature Roundtables of Canada Information Book Award 2013


A breathtaking picture book written for children, with a message meant for everyone…I'm pretty sure I held my breath the entire first time I read this book. The illustrations, the text…It's all sensational.

- Sturdy for Common Things

We are made of earth and water and air and stardust, and we are more related to animals and plants than we ever imagined.

Everything about us is found in the natural world. Our atoms are from ancient stardust, and the water and salt that flows within us is part of the unchanging cycle that goes back to the beginning of time. We breathe pollen that, when released, may actually create a plant. We grow at night and seasonally shed and grow hair, in similar fashion to animals. We are also a living planet for millions of microorganisms. Kelsey doesn’t lecture or overcomplicate the information. She speaks directly to readers in a way that opens minds to big ideas and paves the way for thoughtful questions of their own. The litany of facts comes alive in vivid, descriptive language, lending a philosophical, elegant and mystical aura to current scientific findings. Kim’s incredibly unusual illustrations are sublime. Employing varied painting techniques, vivid colors, multidimensional cutouts, unexpected materials and unusual textures, she creates a view of nature that is at once real and otherworldly. This is a work that demands to be read and reread, studied and examined, and thoroughly digested. It is perfect for sparking adult and child conversations about our place in the universe.

A remarkable achievement.

- Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

"Fodder for both sides of the brain, You Are Stardust helps the young ones identify design within the chaos and realize that science and art are sometimes very much the same thing. "

- Stacey Pavlick

Owlkids Books presents a magical new resource for children, families, educators, and librarians.

If there is one science related book in your home, this one should be it!

- Cara Potapshyn Meyers

... a cartoon dream come to life, with a heavy sprinkling of Sagan on top

- Joe Hanson, PhD

... a stunning exploration of the universe

- Joe Hanson, PhD

You Are Stardust is a poetic and helpful children's picture book that celebrates the bonds that unite us with the entire universe.

- Spirituality & Practice

Kelsey is gifted with the ability to write for children as sensitive and thinking beings…an excellent addition to any home, school or public library.

- CM Magazine: Canadian Review of Materials

These oddball leaps at marrying the natural world with typical kid-thoughts are evocative…[and] Kim's way of literally tying us to nature is as abstract, and as intriguing, as Kelsey's.

- Jennifer M Brown

This book is STUNNING...It will inspire you and your children to get outside and explore the incredible creation all around you.

- YA & Kids Books Central

Kelsey's style is simple but not condescending, and there are enough 'wow' facts here to satisfy more cynical readers...and each turn of the page provides a whimsical new scene to explore.

- Quill & Quire

As the worlds of science and illustration continue to show, sometimes non-traditional forms of illustration - the whimsical, the mysterious, the abstract - are the best ways to draw in a new audience to scientific ideas...[You Are Stardust] transcends typical illustration and leaves room for children and adults alike to ponder the wonderful facts it presents.

- Glendon Mellow

An exquisite picture-book that instills that profound sense of connection with the natural world. Underpinning the narrative is a bold sense of optimism — a refreshing antidote to the fear-appeal strategy plaguing most environmental messages today…a thoughtful, beautiful piece of early science education presented by two women, the most heartening such example since Lauren Redniss’s Radioactive.

- Maria Popova

There is a lot to wonder about for a child, and Kelsey's simple but striking narrative is both poetry and science lesson, answering questions and raising many more for a young reader to wonder about -- the stuff of science and philosophy that all humans ponder, the mystery of it all. This little book can be the first to open up such wide thoughts.

- Books for Kids

This is a book that reveals both the relationships and parallels between humans and the planet they live on, something children think about a lot...and it does so in a clear and compelling way...Don't miss this one, which begs to be shared intimately with children. Gather together, be still, and learn how we are stardust.

- Julie Danielson

An exceptional collaboration.

- ForeWord Reviews

In You are Stardust, Elin Kelsey works magic. This lyrical book effortlessly connects kids to their timeless origins, and the natural world, while teaching them science too. Soyeon Kim's playful illustrations will allow children's imaginations to run wild, even as they will hang on the book's every word. Bravo!

- Juliet Eilperin

This lyrical book effortlessly connects kids to their timeless origins and the natural world, while teaching them science as well.

- Parent Reading Guide 2013

Perfectly balanced with quiet, thoughtful words and spellbinding, detailed dioramas. It is a book to be shared with awe and wonder between child and adult, and will be made even better each time it is read...Don't miss this astonishing book!

- Sally Bender

A surreal but intriguing work of art in words and visual…not to be overlooked for those seeking something special.

- Nancy Rawlinson

The book does a tremendous job at presenting the big picture cycle of life and our place in it.

- Amy Kraft

"Each single and double-page spread in the book is a sumptuous feast for the eyes. ...Kelsey’s storytelling prowess works to tantalize the imagination."

- Stacey Pavlick

Readers learn interesting facts about themselves and are urged to make parallels to the planet at large. Meanwhile paper cutouts of children travel from page to page in the mixed-media dioramas, illustrating the text's assertions in a fantastical way...each one provides much to consider and absorb.

- Julie Roach

As an educator, this picture book is what I like to call a 'thinking book.' It is the type of multi-leveled narrative that, over time, draws you in and prompts more questions than gives answers. For parents and teachers, it is the best kind of book to share with children of all ages because it sparks meaningful conversation.

- Nancy Rawlinson

Like the child pictured, who turns cartwheels on an overturned tree, readers, too, will join in this joyful ceremony of the cycle of life.

- Jennifer M Brown

The mixed-media illustrations by Soyeon Kim, like the text, imbue reality with a dream-like quality.

- Amy Kraft