Snowflake Bentley

by Jacqueline Briggs Martin (Author) Mary Azarian (Illustrator)

Snowflake Bentley
Reading Level: K − 1st Grade
From the time he was a small boy, Wilson Bentley thought of the icy crystals as small miracles. And he determined that one day his camera would capture for others the wonder of the tiny crystals.

Bentley's enthusiasm for photographing snowflakes was often misunderstood in his time, but his patience and determination revealed two important truths about snowflakes: first, that no two are alike and second, that each one is startlingly beautiful. His story, gracefully told by Jacqueline Briggs Martin and brought to life in Mary Azarian's lovely woodcuts, gives children insight into a soul who had not only a scientist's vision and perseverance but a clear passion for the wonders of nature.


Publishers Weekly

Azarian's (A Farmer's Alphabet) handsome woodcuts provide a homespun backdrop to Martin's (Grandmother Bryant's Pocket) brief biography of a farmboy born in 1865 on the Vermont snowbelt who never lost his fascination with snowflakes. Wilson A. Bentley spent 50 years pioneering the scientific study of ice crystals, and developed a technique of microphotography that allowed him to capture the hexagonal shapes and prove that no two snowflakes are alike. Martin conveys Bentley's passion in lyrical language ("snow was as beautiful as butterflies, or apple blossoms"), and punctuates her text with frequent sidebars packed with intriguing tidbits of information (though readers may be confused by the two that explain Bentley's solution of how to photograph the snowflakes). Hand-tinted with watercolors and firmly anchored in the rural 19th century, Azarian's woodcuts evoke an era of sleighs and woodstoves, front porches and barn doors, and their bold black lines provide visual contrast to the delicate snowflakes that float airily in the sidebars. A trio of Bentley's ground-breaking black-and-white photographs of snowflakes, along with a picture and quote from him about his love for his work, is the icing that tops off this attractive volume. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)

School Library Journal

K-Gr 3-This picture-book biography beautifully captures the essence of the life and passion of Wilson A. Bentley (1865-1931), known to many as "The Snowflake Man." A plaque in his hometown honors the work of this simple farmer who labored for 50 years to develop a technique of microphotography in an attempt to capture ."..the grandeur and mystery of the snowflake." The story of this self-taught scientist begins with his early interest in the beauty of snow and his determination to find a way of sharing that beauty with others. At 16, his parents spent their life's savings on a special camera with its own microscope so he could make a permanent record of individual snowflakes. After two years of work, he perfected a technique for making acceptable pictures. He spent the rest of his life photographing ice crystals and sharing them with neighbors and interested scientists and artists around the world. Azarian's woodblock illustrations, hand tinted with watercolors, blend perfectly with the text and recall the rural Vermont of Bentley's time. The inclusion of a photograph of the scientist at work and three of his remarkable photographs adds authenticity. Two articles about his work, one written by Bentley himself, are listed on the CIP page. The story of this man's life is written with graceful simplicity. Sidebars decorated with snowflakes on every page add facts for those who want more details. An inspiring selection.-Virginia Golodetz, Children's Literature New England, Burlington, VT

Review quotes

"A warm period look at a cold subject - snow - and one self-made scientist, Wilson A. Bentley, affectionately know as Snowflake. . . . The book exhibits a beautiful blend of Azarian's splendid woodcuts, a lyrical text, and factual sidebars. Bentley's dedication to his research is clearly evident, and the ridicule to which he was sometimes subjected is appropriately downplayed for a young audience. The illustrations, tinted with watercolors, depict the people, homes, meadows, and woods of turn-of-the-century Vermont countryside in accurate detail. Sources for the factual material are credited, and a final page features photographs of Bentley at work and three of his actual snowflake slides." Horn Book

"Wilson Bentley was fascinated by snow, in childhood and adulthood, and, practically speaking, is the one who 'discovered' snow crystals, by photographing them in all their variation. As a youngster, he was so taken with these little six-sided ice crystals that his parents scraped together their savings to buy him a camera with a microscope. From then on, despite his neighbors' amusement, he took hundreds of portraits of snowflakes. As an adult, he gave slide shows of his work, and when he was 66, a book was published of his photos - a book that is still in use today. Martin chronicles Bentley's life and his obsession in a main, poetic text, but provides additional facts in careful, snowflake-strewn sidebars. . . . This is a lyrical biographical tribute to a farmer, whose love of snow and careful camera work expanded both natural science and photography." Kirkus Reviews

"This picture-book biography beautifully captures the essence of the life and passion of Wilson A. Bentely. . . . The story of this man's life is written with graceful simplicity. . . . An inspiring selection." School Library Journal
Jacqueline Briggs Martin
Jacqueline Briggs Martin's many children's books include Snowflake Bentley, winner of the Caldecott Medal, and Alice Waters and the Trip to Delicious, a School Library Journal starred review book. She grew up on a farm in Maine and now lives in Mt. Vernon, Iowa.

Eric-Shabazz Larkin made his illustration debut with Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table in 2013 and his author-illustrator debut with A Moose Boosh: A Few Choice Words About Food in 2014. Both were named ALA Notable Books. He lives in New York City.

Will Allen is a farmer and founder and CEO of Growing Power in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He is recognized as a preeminent practitioner of urban agriculture in America and throughout the world. A former basketball star, he was named a MacArthur Genius Fellow in 2008 and Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2010.
Classification
Non-fiction
ISBN-13
9780395861622
Lexile Measure
830L
Guided Reading Level
N
Publisher
Clarion Books
Publication date
September 19, 1998
Series
-
Lupine Award
Winner 1998 - 1998
Caldecott Medal
Winner 1999 - 1999
Parents Choice Award (Fall) (1998-2007)
Winner 1999 - 1999
Red Clover Award
Nominee 2000 - 2000

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