Tag Archives: Carl Sagan

#365PictureBooks Day 9 – Picture books for big connections

I want to share a picture book that fits with my collection ‘vision’ of having resources for our students that stimulate curiosity, imagination and wonder and encourage questioning and thinking. You are stardust  is an incredible mix of science, imagination, environmental awareness, spirituality and hope for the future of the earth.


You are stardust written by Elin Kelsey, Artwork by Soyeon Kim

“From the water they drink to the trees
they climb, kids are connected to the natural world in big and surprising ways.”

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. [Publisher]

“I wrote You Are Stardust because I didn’t just want to tell kids they are part of nature. I wanted to show them in a more personal way, by linking what happens in their own bodies to what happens in the sky, the ocean, the forests, and to other animals.” [Elin Kelsey]

The writing is almost poetry, but every beautiful, whispery sentence is backed by real science.

“Your breath is alive with
the promise of flowers”

“Scientists can now sample the microscopic world in such fine detail; they are discovering all kinds of new species of tiny plants and animals that naturally live in the air we breathe. I interviewed palynologists, scientists who study pollen grains, to ask them, “What happens to all the pollen in the air we breathe?” Every day, you breathe in more than a million pollen grains. The bigger ones get caught in the mucus or hairs in your nose and sneezed back out. Tinier ones may travel down your throat and eventually get pooped out. But a lucky few float back out when you exhale. So that’s what I meant when I wrote, “Each time you blow a kiss to the world, you spread pollen that might grow to be a new plant.” [Author Q&A]

The book is also available as an iPad app. Unfortunately this is not available in the NZ itunes store at this time.

Please see this beautiful piece at Brain Pickings about this book. It was reading this article that made me want to order the book immediately.

Bibliographic details:

You are stardust written by Elin Kelsey, Artwork by Soyeon Kim

Published by Owl Kids, 2012.

32 pages

ISBN:9781926973357

NZ RRP $36.99

Available to purchase from Wheelers or borrow from Auckland Libraries

#365PictureBooks Day 6 – Star stuff : Carl Sagan and the mysteries of the cosmos

For every child who has ever looked up at the stars and asked, “What are they?” comes the story of a curious boy who never stopped wondering: Carl Sagan.

“Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were, but without it we go nowhere.” – Carl Sagan

“When Carl Sagan was a young boy he went to the 1939 World’s Fair and his life was changed forever. From that day on he never stopped marveling at the universe and seeking to understand it better. Star Stuff follows Carl from his days star gazing from the bedroom window of his Brooklyn apartment, through his love of speculative science fiction novels, to his work as an internationally renowned scientist who worked on the Voyager missions exploring the farthest reaches of space. This book introduces the beloved man who brought the mystery of the cosmos into homes across America to a new generation of dreamers and star gazers. “[Publisher website].

 I recently borrowed this from Auckland Libraries,  but it’s firmly on my list for purchase as soon as I return to school.  I’m going to use it in any unit of inquiry where we are looking at innovation and curiosity. This will be especially valuable for our Year 3  PYP Where we are in place and time unit of inquiry, with the central idea “Exploration and discovery leads to new understandings and opportunities” where the focus of the inquiry is on space exploration.

I’m going to shelve this with the biographies related to astronomy and space at 520.92 SAG. This is the same spot where students can find books about Galileo and right with all the really popular material on space and astronomy. The 520s are an area I’m currently trying to simplify within Dewey.

When students need to look at biographies as a genre it is easy for them to find books about the person they are interested in by searching for them by name in our catalogue. All picture book biographies in our collection are tagged BIOGRAPHY and we consistently use a subject heading like Sagan, Carl – Biography. I have found that not having all the biographies at 920, but within their subject area, is far better for browsing kids and a result, the books get checked out more often (not just when students are looking at biographies – which may only be once a year).

Awards, accolades and starred reviews:

“Carl Sagan is best known for being a renowned expert on the cosmos, but he started out as just a curious kid fascinated with the night sky, and that’s where Sisson starts this picture-book biography.” – Booklist
“Sisson’s economical narrative and lighthearted illustrations convey Sagan’s regard for the power of imagination and his generous approach to knowledge. . . Both friendly and inspiring.” – KIRKUS, STARRED REVIEW
“Told in narrative format, this beautifully designed and illustrated picture book gives readers a glimpse into the childhood wonderings Sagan experienced as he looked at the night sky and imagined possibilities. . . A gorgeous, informative offering for biography and science collections.” – School Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW and one of the SLJ Best Books for 2014
“A broader message about the role wonder plays in innovation resonates throughout this story.” – Publishers Weekly
Biographical details:

Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos / by Stephanie Roth Sisson

Published by Roaring Brook Press, 2014

40 pages.

ISBN:9781596439603

NZ RRP: $35.50

Available for purchase from Wheelers or to borrow from Auckland Libraries.

Related posts:

On a beam of light