The Secret Life of a Snowflake: An Up-Close Look at the Art and Science of Snowflakes

Overview

Before a snowflake melts on your tongue, it makes an epic journey. This is the beautiful, full-color story of that journey, step by step, from a single snowflake’s creation in the clouds, through its fall to earth, to its brief and sparkling appearance on a child’s mitten. Told by a scientist who knows snowflakes better than almost anyone, the story features his brilliant photographs of real snowflakes, snowflakes forming (in the author’s lab), water evaporating, clouds developing, ice crystals, rain, dew, and ...

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Overview

Before a snowflake melts on your tongue, it makes an epic journey. This is the beautiful, full-color story of that journey, step by step, from a single snowflake’s creation in the clouds, through its fall to earth, to its brief and sparkling appearance on a child’s mitten. Told by a scientist who knows snowflakes better than almost anyone, the story features his brilliant photographs of real snowflakes, snowflakes forming (in the author’s lab), water evaporating, clouds developing, ice crystals, rain, dew, and frost—all the elements of the world and weather that add up, flake by flake, to the white landscape of winter. Aimed at readers from 6 to 12, The Secret Life of a Snowflake gets to the heart of one of nature’s most magical phenomena while making the wonder of the snowflake all the more real.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
National Science Teachers Association

Most children are naturally interested in snowfall and snowflakes; they are a favorite subject of art activities in schools in the winter months. This book will captivate readers. It does an excellent job of integrating the science behind snowflake formation and the beautiful natural art that is the end result.

Written by a physicist who studies snowflake form, the text is very informative and covers many science concepts related to the subject (such as light and color, the water cycle, crystal formation, and molecular structure). The accompanying photographs are exquisite, and the diagrams clarify the scientific content in an effective manner.

There are a few suggested activities in the text that a classroom teacher could easily do with students, such as making paper snowflakes and observing snowflakes under a microscope. This is a great resource for integrated lessons at the elementary and middle school level.

A PICTURE BOOK NOT TO MISS: Caltech physics professor Kenneth Libbrecht has translated his passion for ice crystals into an extraordinary book for young people, "The Secret Life of a Snowflake: An Up-Close Look at the Art and Science of Snowflakes" (Voyageur Press: $17, all ages). How rare it is for a scientist to be able to describe his work this simply: "I look at snowflakes under a microscope and take pictures of what I see." – LA Times

This beautiful book is worth spending time with. Trust me, it's nothing like the piles of slippery stuff in your driveway. "The Secret Life of a Snowflake" features stunning photography (the kind you linger over) and science that's fun and informative. – Cape Cod Times

The next time it snows, I am heading outside with magnifying glass in hand, inspired by “The Secret Life of a Snowflake’’ by Kenneth Libbrecht (Voyageur). The target readers are 9- and 10-year-olds, but the book deserves a broader audience. A snowflake researcher at Caltech, Libbrecht is as enthusiastic about science as he is about the beautiful photographs he takes of snowflakes under a microscope. – Boston Globe

Depending on where you live, you may have already seen a lot of snow this winter. But you’ve probably never seen it like this. The author, a professor of physics at the California Institute of Technology, presents super-close-up photos of snowflakes, taken under a microscope, for a crystal-clear look at one of nature’s most delicate, dazzling displays. – American Profile

Aimed at kids but sure to engage any snow-loving adults Kenneth Libbrecht's photos capture true works of nature's art, and his text reveals a lot about where they come from and how they get here. Oh, and you can learn how to make a paper snowflake — the right way. – Star Tribune

His latest book is for kids: The Secret Life of a Snowflake, a fascinating look at the science of frozen crystals that will appeal to adults, too…His book, a beautiful blend of art and science, includes instructions for the proper way to fold and cut a snowflake from paper. – Columbus Dispatch

School Library Journal, May 2010

Extraordinary photographs of individual snowflakes are the true highlight of this informational book. With crisp detail and lit up with colored light, the crystals are mesmerizing in their clarity and brilliance. Libbrecht uses a first-person narration to describe the microphotography process that he uses to create the images and then goes on to outline the life cycle of a snowflake…A solid addition to any science collection, this book will draw in young enthusiasts, and the beautiful photographs will engage casual browsers.

School Library Journal
Gr 3–6—Extraordinary photographs of individual snowflakes are the true highlight of this informational book. With crisp detail and lit up with colored light, the crystals are mesmerizing in their clarity and brilliance. Libbrecht uses a first-person narration to describe the microphotography process that he uses to create the images and then goes on to outline the life cycle of a snowflake. Some elementary science is included in the text, such as the water cycle and the crystallization process, which explains why no two snowflakes are ever alike. Details about why snowflakes always have six branches and why they vary in size so much add interest and depth, offering readers more than just the basics. A solid addition to any science collection, this book will draw in young enthusiasts, and the beautiful photographs will engage casual browsers. Team it with Jacqueline Briggs Martin's Snowflake Bentley (Houghton, 1998) and Snow Crystals (Dover, 1962), Bentley's own collection of snowflake photographs, for an intriguing lesson on snow.—Jody Kopple, Shady Hill School, Cambridge, MA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780760336762
  • Publisher: Voyageur Press
  • Publication date: 1/1/2010
  • Edition description: First
  • Pages: 48
  • Sales rank: 98,216
  • Age range: 8 - 11 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.60 (w) x 11.20 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Kenneth Libbrecht is a professor of physics at Caltech, where he studies the molecular dynamics of crystal growth, especially how ice crystals grow from water vapor, which is essentially the physics of snowflakes. He has authored several books on this topic, including The Snowflake: Winter's Secret Beauty, The Art of the Snowflake, and Ken Libbrecht's Field Guide to Snowflakes. He lives in Pasadena with his wife, Rachel Wing. They have two children.

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