Parents' Guide to

The Stuff of Stars

By Jan Carr, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 4+

Poetic book introduces big cosmic concepts to little humans.

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This poetic reflection on the cosmos is a meaningful way to introduce kids to scientific concepts about the universe, as well as spiritual ones about our connection to and place in it. The Stuff of Stars presents much of the science simply and clearly, making it easy for kids to grasp. For instance, "The planets closest to their star stayed very hot. The ones far away grew cold. But one lucky planet, a fragile blue ball we call Earth, was neither too far nor too near." The text can be mesmerizing, with rhythmic repetition, "In the dark, in the dark, in the deep, deep dark," as well as heightened language; the speck that's waiting to be born is "invisible as dreams, special as Love." And references throughout to the lush natural life on Earth -- "violets blooming in a shady wood," "crickets singing to the night" -- help foster a deep respect.

Ekua Holmes' art is gorgeous, but her task here is challenging. How does one illustrate no time/no space, or the initial explosion of the universe? The stunning collage art is constructed with hand-marbled paper, and is often abstract, so it may be harder to keep kids grounded. But the textured swirls are hypnotic, and kids can search closely to discern recognizable forms mentioned in the text. The bones of dinosaurs, wooly mammoths, galloping horses, and a loving parent and child help kids stay down to earth.

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