Snowflake Bentley

Snowflake Bentley


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"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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780547248295
Publisher: HMH Books
Publication date: 12/28/2009
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 32
Sales rank: 35,167
Product dimensions: 9.80(w) x 9.80(h) x 0.10(d)
Lexile: AD830L (what's this?)
Age Range: 4 - 8 Years

About the Author

Jacqueline Briggs Martin is the author of many delightful books for children, including Banjo Granny and Chicken Joy on Redbean Road. She lives in Mt. Vernon, Iowa, and her web site is

Mary Azarian has also illustrated From Dawn Till Dusk and Here Comes Darrell. She lives in Vermont.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"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

Customer Reviews

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Snowflake Bentley 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 37 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As winter is in full effect and snowfalls are becoming more familiar to the area, I couldn't help but pick up Jacqueline Briggs Martin's Snowflake Bentley. As educational as it is delightful, Martin's colorful picture book gives the historical account of Wilson 'Snowflake' Bentley (1865-1931), an American farmer who dedicated most of his life to microphotography. This form of photography allowed Bentley to take pictures of snow crystals and study the snowflakes more closely. The pictures in this story compliment this educational narrative as they also add expressive and colorful images. A drawing of Wilson Bentley is dominates the book as the central image. The story shows Wilson's growth from a child to an adult in his study of nature, whether he is walking in the snow, examining insects in a field of flowers, or studying the shapes of snowflakes under a camera in his home. This visual art classifies Briggs' book as a picture book. According to Rhedin in Kummerling-Beibauer Bettina's article, 'Metalinguistic Awareness and the Child's Developing Concept of Irony: The Relationship between Pictures and Text in Ironic Picture Books', there is two types of picture books. The first is a book where the 'visual art dominates as an independent mode of expression but is enhanced by actual or implied narrative structure.' I wouldn't say that the visual art in Snowflake Bentley is dominant or independent nor would I say that it is the second type of picture book where 'the verbal text dominates as an independent work of art where illustrations¿show a distinctive freedom of style and thought.' (162) Rather, I would say that the text and illustrations are dependent on one another. The illustrations do indeed show a distinctive of freedom of style and thought but these thoughts are parallel with the plot. The pictures of the snow are pleasant and comforting, as the story is also pleasant and comforting. She uses pictures of William, Wilson's family, the fallen snow, but also of other seasons where Wilson is studying other aspects of nature. The falling snowflakes throughout the text continue the idea of snowfall, whether on a double full-page spread or set on borders outside the text. The colors throughout the story are vibrant and are visual images of the words in the text. The pictures are able to depict fully what Briggs wants the readers to understand by creating an image that brings the story line to life. Readers, both children and adults, can enjoy this story line as well as the history behind Wilson Bentley. I picked up Snowflake Bentley on a cold winter's day but the pictures were warming and the story taught me to examine snowflakes for more than just a way to get out of class.
mccabe1030 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The story of Wilson Bentley is a well written informational picture book. The book documents his journey to becoming a snowflake expert as he photographed the snowflakes throughout his life. The layout of the book is very consistent and easy for a young reader to understand. The sidebars of several pages give greater details of Mr. Bentley¿s life story.
ecugary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Snowflake Bentley is the story of a man that captured pictures of snow for everyone. He begged his parents to purchase a camera for him; they were very expensive. Although his father thought his idea was crazy, he loved his son and spent his savings to get him the camera. The man spent his life capturing snow. He also worked to photograph other seasons in pictures, but snow was his favorite.This story could be used in conjunction with a science lesson. Students could begin by discussing the different types of weather and then learn about photography.
conuly on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a fascinating book, well-illustrated, about the man who first captured snowflakes to save. My nieces were enraptured.However, it is a little wordy, and it can be hard to figure out (if you're reading aloud) what to do with the sidebars of information. (I personally ignored them. They're interesting on their own, but trying to integrate them into the story would've been impossible.) This is definitely a picture book for the older crowd OR for young children who read well above their grade level.
KellyBryan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I think it is a great topic of interest especially with the winter months coming. Children love playing in the snow and are intrigued by snowflakes. This book can even be turned into an activity. Each child can make their own snowflake or the kids can be taken outside to catch snowflakes and compare them. I love the illustrations in this book. The images are smooth and capture the story of Bently perfectly.
LisaBohman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the story of Wilson Bentley and how he took pictures of snowflakes. Bentley loves the snow. He tries to preserve their beautiful images by drawing them, but they always melt before he is complete. Bentley's family see the importance of snowflakes to Bentley so they buy him a camera. He starts a photo collection which is published when he is 66 years old. Bentley helped make the discovery that no two snowflakes are alike. This book is unique because it also includes sections on every two pages that offers additional factual information about Bentely's life. The illustrations in the story are powerful and depict the story of Bentley's life.
ShortyK on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I liked the details of this book. The fact that it kind of had side bars with extra information was different but fun. The pictures lent a classic feel to the story I thought.
bestwhensimple on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Jacqueline Briggs Martin succeeds in telling a beautiful story about a nineteenth century man who loves snow. Wilson "Snowflake" Bentley spent his entire life trying to capture the most perfect snowflake despite the financial costs and disparaging remarks he received from outsiders. This book shows that we can (and should) follow our dreams. The book won the Caldecott Medal for Mary Azarian's wonderful woodcuts hand-colored with bright watercolors. These woodcuts add to the rustic feeling of the book. Snowflake Bentley was a common man with a wonderful dream. We can aspire to do great things like he did, too!In terms of the structure of the book, there are usually two columns on a page, one large center column where Briggs Martin narrates the story of Snowflake Bentley, and one smaller side column which provides specific biographical data about Snowflake Bentley that aren't mentioned in the narrative. I really like the story book quality of this non-fiction book. I think that it would appeal to children who are interested in science but do not want a textbook-style explanation. I also highly recommend it to readers who would like to read a success story about a man who followed his dreams.
emilee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is a good book to read to children to get the excited about nature, and art.
StephanieWA on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a touching story of the dedication and perseverance of a farmer-scientist which illustrates for children the immense patience and time it takes sometimes to do research. Martin's story, however also conveys the passion and conviction of this dedicated scientist and the reader can't help but share in it. Azarian's woodcut and watercolour illustrations complement the story beautifully as do the snowflake borders.
BetsySanford on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Beautifully written and illustrated biography of the man who took the first microscopic photos of snowflakes.
eecnelsen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a true story. As a boy Willie Bentley loved flowers, butterflies and especially snow. He was facinated with the intricate patterns of snowflakes he took pictures of them and found that each is unique. He was well known for his published pictures. I really enjoy the pictures in this book and on the side there are facts about his life. Great Read!!
lisabankey on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is the story of Wison Bentley who loved snow even when he was a child. He was fascinated by the crystal-like form of each snowflake. He developed a way to photograph individual snowflakes. His photographs were appreciated as art and also by the scientific community. The sides of each page contain real facts of the the process and of Wilson Bentley. The illustrations of the story are in the style of colored woodblock printing.
elpowers on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Interesting book about a man's interest in snowflakes and making images of them. Might bore some.
kitty69PA More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed stoy. Beautiful pictures. Children of all ages would enjoy. kitty69PA
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
For those of you who enjoy informational books told through a crafty story, this book is for you! Snowflake Bentley not only tells the story of William Bentley's discovery of the intricate patterns in a snowflake, but also tells of his passion for the beauty in nature and his love for teaching others of his discoveries. Bentley grew up in Vermont where snow was excessively abundant during the winter. Though most people looked past the individuality that each snowflake has to offer, Bentley was meticulous in his studies and strived to find the most beautiful and captivating patterns. In fact, the humble Bentley was so dedicated to his work that his earnings from his photographs and slides went directly into improving his work space. The life of William Bentley is interesting and bittersweet. I believe that this book is fun for all ages, especially around the winter season!
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is about Wilson Bentley who photographed thousands of individual snowflakes, in order to study their unique formations. People in Bentley¿s time made fun of him and thought that he was nuts, because they didn¿t believe you could take pictures of snowflakes. However, while taking pictures Wilson revealed two amazing truths about snowflakes. You will have to read the rest of the book to find out what two truths that Wilson found out. Martin, Jacqueline Briggs. Snowflake Bentley. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1998.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Jacqueline Briggs Martin was raised on a farm in Maine. She now lives in Iowa with her husband and two children. She tried teaching preschool while, but it was not right for her. She often uses her own life experiences in her stories. Ms. Briggs continues to write in an office on the first floor where she gains inspiration by looking out onto the porch and watching the comings and goings in the front yard and on the street. In 1999 Snowflake Bentley won the Caldecott Award for its illustrations. Wilson Bentley was born on February 9, 1865, on a farm in Jericho, Vermont. His happiest days were snowstorm days. He used an old microscope that his mother gave him to look at snowflakes, flowers, raindrops, and blades of grass. He would draw pictures of the snowflakes, but they would always melt before he finished them. He also discovered that no two snowflakes were the same. His parents bought him a special camera to take pictures of the snowflakes. His pictures are still studied today.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. It was very informative and told the story of the man who loved snowflakes!! This was a 1999 Caldecott award winning book! It would be best for 3rd graders! My favorite quote from the book was ' Fall all the snow lovers of the world who like me think show is like chocolate, there is never enough!' This book is very inspirational because he is discourged by the towns people saying' We dont need pictures of snow' Yet every winter he record the many snowflakes he catches!Mortin, Jacquelin Briggs. Snowflake Bentley. New York, NY: Haughton Mifflin Co., 1998.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Jacqueline was raised on a farm in Maine. She now lives in Iowa. She has one daughter and one son. Every time she writes a new story she buys a new notebook and a new pen. She was a preschool teacher for a while but it was not right for her. She often uses her own life experiences in her stories. It should come as no surprise that she wrote a true story called Snowflake Bentley. If you have read this book it should not be a surprise that she won the Caldecott medal for this book. This is the true story of a man who was fascinated with snowflakes. He loved to watch the snow fall and tried to catch just one snowflake at a time so he could see it better. In the book he said ¿Snow is as beautiful as butterflies¿. His parents bought him a special camera that had a microscope attached to it. He was finally able to take pictures of the snowflakes and examine them. He discovered the fact that no two snowflakes are exactly the same. The pictures in this book are wonderful. It is not just a bunch of pictures of snowflakes it is a very detailed account of this farmer¿s journey and growth as he pursued his passion. The pictures are very lifelike which reinforces the fact that this is a true story. The pictures are so well done that they almost look like photographs. I would recommend that all my students red this book. I have already recommended that all my children read it. Martin, Jacqueline Briggs. Snowflake Bentley. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1998. Reading Level 4.4