Snowflake Bentley
Snowflake Bentley

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Annotation: A biography of a self-taught scientist who photographed thousands of individual snowflakes in order to study their unique formations.
Genre: Biographies
Catalog Number: #275889
Format: Perma-Bound Edition
All Formats: Search
Common Core/STEAM: Common Core Common Core
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Copyright Date: 1998
Edition Date: 1998
Illustrator: Azarian, Mary,
Pages: 32
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-547-24829-6 Perma-Bound: 0-605-74289-8
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-547-24829-5 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-74289-5
Dewey: 921
LCCN: 97012458
Dimensions: 26 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
Horn Book
A warm period look at a cold subject--snow--and one self-made scientist, Wilson A. Bentley, the man who discovered, among other things, the fact that no two snowflakes are alike. Bentley's dedication to his research is clearly evident, and the ridicule to which he was sometimes subjected is appropriately down-played for a young audience. The book exhibits a beautiful blend of Azarian's splendid woodcuts, a lyrical text, and factual sidebars.
Kirkus Reviews
Wilson Bentley (1865—1931) 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. The deep blue snow shadows and fuzzy glow of falling flakes in Azarian's skillfully carved, hand-tinted woodcuts recreate the cold winter wonderland of "Snowflake" Bentley's Vermont. This is a lyrical biographical tribute to a farmer, whose love of snow and careful camera work expanded both natural science and photography. (Picture book/nonfiction. 4-9)
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
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* From the time he was a little boy, Wilson Bentley loved snow. Yet snow was frustrating to him. He could pick flowers for his mother or net butterflies, but he couldn't hold on to snowflakes. First, Bentley tried drawing snow crystals, but they would melt too quickly. Then, as a teenager in the 1870s, he read about a camera with a microscope. His family were Vermont farming folk, but they scraped together the money to buy him the camera. From then on, there was no stopping Bentley, who was nicknamed Snowflake. He spent winters photographing the intricate flakes. At first no one cared (Snow in Vermont is as common as dirt); but Bentley found fame as a nature photographer, and even today his photo book of snowflakes is considered a primary source. Martin has chosen her subject well; Bentley's determined life will have innate inspiration for children. Just as important, all parts of the book work together beautifully. The text is crisp and engaging, using word imagery to good advantage: his new camera was taller than a newborn calf and cost as much as father's herd of ten cows. Azarian's woodcuts are strong and sure, just like Bentley himself, and also, like him, show a love of nuance and detail. The book's design allows for snowflake-touched sidebars that offer more specific details about camera technique or Bentley's experiments with snow. There will be so many uses for this book--not the least of which is simply handing it to children and letting their imaginations soar like Bentley's.
Word Count: 979
Reading Level: 4.4
Interest Level: K-3
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.4 / points: 0.5 / quiz: 27678 / grade: Lower Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:4.1 / points:2.0 / quiz:Q13536
Lexile: AD830L

In this Caldecott Medal-winning picture book, the true story of Wilson Bentley and his singular fascination with snowflakes is rendered in rich prose and gorgeous artwork, perfect for the holidays, snow days, and everyday. Wilson Bentley was always fascinated by snow. In childhood and adulthood, he saw each tiny crystal of a snowflake as a little miracle, and wanted to understand them. His parents supported his curiosity and saved until they could give him his own camera and microscope. At the time, his enthusiasm was misunderstood. But with patience and determination, Wilson catalogued hundreds of snowflake photographs, gave slideshows of his findings and, when he was 66, published a book of his photos. His work became the basis for all we know about beautiful, unique snowflakes today. This biographical tribute to a very special farmer is the perfect holiday gift or snow day read.


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