Review of The Stuff of Stars

The Stuff of Stars
by Marion Dane Bauer; illus. by Ekua Holmes
Primary    Candlewick    40 pp.
9/18    978-0-7636-7883-8    $17.99

From darkness, we experience the Big Bang, the birth of the universe, and the emergence of life on Earth. Holmes, known for her striking collage art (Voice of Freedom, rev. 9/15; Out of Wonder, rev. 5/17) breathes life and depth into Bauer’s ambitious poem, with a new look: marbled paper. On some spreads, the marbling serves as a semi-abstract representation, while on others it is combined with Holmes’s familiar collages, with representational shapes subtly emerging from the mottled background. We proceed to dinosaurs, which then give way to other animals and to humans. Bauer’s switch to direct address (“Waiting / waiting… / Until at last, / YOU burst into the world”) accompanies the realization that a small white speck seen in earlier illustrations is, in fact, the child listener. By book’s end, we see an adult and child together: “You, / and me / loving you. / All of us / the stuff of stars.” Will younger children understand the scale of this text? More likely, they will just take it on faith and be mesmerized by the remarkable art by Holmes, one of the most thoughtful interpreters of poetry working in children’s books today.

From the January/February 2019 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Lolly Robinson

Lolly Robinson is a freelance designer and consultant with degrees in studio art and children’s literature. She is the former creative director for The Horn Book, Inc., and has taught children’s literature at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education. She has served on the Caldecott and Boston Globe-Horn Book Award committees and blogged for Calling Caldecott and Lolly's Classroom on this site.


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