The author of You Are Stardust, Elin Kelsey, set out to write a book about the unbreakable connection of man with nature. She collected numerous instances of this connection and wanted to share it with children. This led to her collaborating with illustrator Soyeon Kim, who produced breathtaking dioramas. This artistic partnership which yielded ‘You Are Stardust’ seems like a hat tip to Lawrence Krauss’ (cosmologist and physicist) famous quote.
Every atom in your body came from a star that exploded.
And the atoms from your left hand probably came from a different star than your right hand.
It really is the most poetic thing I know about physics.
You are all stardust.
Elin, a science journalist recounts that the greatest challenge in presenting scientific ideas to children was to make them feel that connection to nature, rather than a simple presentation of examples and facts. She has seen children who are permanently connected to the Internet are also capable of being in awe of nature. Children innately know that they have the world within them. You Are Stardust hopes to make them conscious of this. It seeks to help children make new connections with nature.
Illustrator Soyeon Kim used dry flowers, wooden sticks and pollen boxes to make dioramas – 3d model such as the ones, you would see in a museum.
In fact, all the flowers from the book, such as the yellow flower, purple lavender, and the leaves, are all from my garden. I dried them last year just before summer ended, and I thought it would really work well in terms of the context of You Are Stardust. To build the dioramas, I used wooden sticks (from Home Depot’s gardening department) and got help from my brother and a friend to build each box. Across the top and bottom of each diorama I stretched linen fabric, so that the drawings can be hung with fishing line or stitched on.I built seven dioramas for the book, and they took a solid one to two months. My days during those months were work, eat, work, sleep, and work, but I must say as tired as I was, I could not stop drawing because I was having so much fun.
The power of the idea and the illustration combine to you with wonder.
You Are Stardust reminds us that we are all same in our essence and deeply inter-connected. We are not different but different parts of the Universe. If this singular idea enters our collective minds, the world will become a better place to live in.
You Are Stardust is now available as an iPadApp as well. Every shake or swipe of the screen will pull kids in (and parents) to play, learn, and see the world with fresh eyes, the app promises. The app has a story narration by the author. Illustrator Kim explains how she made the dioramas. Also included are DIY activities.
In parting, it is fitting to remember Eckhart Tolle’s words,
You are the universe, expressing itself as a human for a little while.
Images source: http://www.kimsoyeonart.com/