Child of the Universe

Make Me a World. Mar. 2020. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781524717544.
PreS-Gr 4–This beguiling bedtime tale at once explores a child’s place in the universe and in a loving parent’s heart. Acclaimed astrophysicist Jayawardhana’s lyrical text underscores the intersection of science and wonder, the intimate and the expansive, the familiar and the unknown. Gazing out the window at bedtime, a girl’s father tells her that she is made of stars: “The universe conspired to make you…/Just like the sun gives shine to the moon,/you light up the world beyond this room.” Colón’s eye-dazzling mixed-media paintings majestically convey the grand ideas, effortlessly pivoting from depictions of celestial skyscapes to close-up images of a nightgown-garbed girl with flowing black curls and twinkling eyes. One spread shows a midnight-blue silhouette of the child—her body filled with bright-hued renditions of the long-ago stars that now make up the “iron in your blood, the calcium in your bones”—set against an abstract background that could be viewed as microscopic body cells or a broad image of a sun. Worlds seem to coalesce and collide (“Your atoms spin like Saturn’s rings./You are a part of everything”), as stylized atoms dance above the girl in a dreamy planetary panorama, appear like tiny henna tattoos on her arm, or become giant-sized enough for her to float through. All of these astral wanderings and wonderings are brought home with a cozy conclusion, as the girl’s father tucks her into bed beneath a smiling moon.
VERDICT This lovely picture book can spark interest in scientific exploration, create awareness of our connection to the cosmos, and encourage dreamers to embark on their own journeys of imagination.

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