Snow in Vermont is as common as dirt. Why would anyone want to photograph it? Snowflake Bentley is a biographical portrait of a farm boy who loved snowflakes. He loved them so much that as he grew up he learned to photograph them and share them with the world. Ages 4 to 8.
"Of all the forms of water the tiny six-pointed crystals of ice called snow are incomparably the most beautiful and varied." -- Wilson Bentley (1865-1931)
From the time he was a small boy in Vermont, Wilson Bentley saw snowflakes as small miracles. And he determined that one day his camera would capture for others the wonder of the tiny crystal. Bentley's enthusiasm for photographing snowflakes was often misunderstood in his time, but his patience and determination revealed two important truths: no two snowflakes are alike; and each one is startlingly beautiful. His story is gracefully told and brought to life in lovely woodcuts, giving children insight into a soul who had not only a scientist's vision and perseverance but a clear passion for the wonders of nature. Snowflake Bentley won the 1999 Caldecott Medal.
Jacqueline Briggs Martin is the author of Snowflake Bentley, winner of the 1999 Caldecott Medal, and The Lamp, the Ice, and the Boat Called Fish, an ALA Notable Book, a Bulletin Blue Ribbon Book, Riverbank Review Finalist, Notable Social Studies Trade book and winner of The Golden Kite Award for Illustration. She grew up on a farm in Maine much like the one in this story. She lives in Mt. Vernon, Iowa.
Caldecott Medalist Mary Azarian is a consummate gardener and a skilled and original woodblock artist. Many of her prints are heavily influenced by her love of gardening, and her turn-of-the-century farmhouse is surrounded by gardens that reveal an artist's vision. Mary Azarian received the 1999 Caldecott Medal for SNOWFLAKE BENTLEY, written by Jacqueline Briggs Martin. She lives, skis, and gardens in Vermont.
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.)
"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