Blog tour: Elin Kelsey

Today, welcomes author Elin Kelsey as she stops by on her blog tour to discuss her new book You Are Stardust (Owlkids, 2012).


I am deeply moved by the fact that we are nature—that we are stardust—and I wanted my new book, You Are Stardust (Owlkids, 2012), to have a lyrical, celebratory, and poetic feel. Yet, finding that voice was difficult. I wanted to keep the text short and evocative, but I still needed to include lots of scientific explanations. My first drafts were a hodgepodge of both.

I also worried that the early versions of the illustrations felt rather dark and edgy. I wanted a book that built the feeling of the wonder of our personal connections to nature like an orchestral crescendo. I worried that the splendor of the idea was getting lost.

Authors and illustrators rarely meet when they are working on a book. The editor works with each individually and creates the book as a whole. In this case, my editor arranged for Soyeon Kim and I to meet and discuss the project. I was invited to make comments on the early art work. I requested brighter colors and the inclusion of many more specific types of animals.

I was very excited the first time I saw the finished artwork for the book. Soyeon had created large three-dimensional wood frames with beautiful illustrations and natural objects, such as dried flowers, strung delicately between them on fine filaments. As the illustrations evolved, my writing evolved too.

I came to realize that the illustrations could convey the feeling of the scientific facts I had wanted to include. I felt more able to pare down the text. I let go of favorite explanations and trusted that fewer words could convey greater meaning.

Below are a few of the finished illustrations from You Are Stardust. Enjoy!


Text reads: You started life as a single cell. So did all other creatures on planet Earth.


Text reads: The water swirling in your glass once filled the puddles where dinosaurs drank.


Text reads: Like fish deep in the ocean, you called salt water home. You swam inside the salty sea of your mother’s womb.


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