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Snowflake Bentley [Paperback]

Jacqueline Briggs Martin , Mary Azarian
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 11.99
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Book Description

Dec 28 2009

"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.

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Snowflake Bentley + Snowflakes in Photographs + The Story of Snow: The Science of Winter's Wonder
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Product Description

From Amazon

Most children are captivated by snow, but how many go on to make it their lifework? This beautiful biography, winner of the 1999 Caldecott Medal, tells the true story of a Vermont farm boy who was mesmerized by snowflakes. Wilson Bentley was fascinated by the six-sided frozen phenomena, and once he acquired a microscope with a camera, his childhood preoccupation took on a more scientific leaning. Bentley spent his life taking countless exquisite photographs (many that are still used in nature photography today), examining the tiny crystals and their delicate, mathematical structures. Jacqueline Briggs Martin tells this tale with simple, graceful prose that will engage children's imaginations. Edifying and snowflake-scattered sidebars offer more information about Bentley's methods and snowflake science. The artwork of Mary Azarian, whose 19th-century hand-press illustrations decorate the charming Barn Cat, shines once again in Snowflake Bentley, with woodcuts that reveal an appreciation for detail as well as for the man who loved snow. The lovely illustrations and equally fresh text will inspire and comfort youngsters (and grownups too) who wish they could capture snowflakes all year long. (Ages 4 to 8) --Brangien Davis --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From 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.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars How do they figure the Caldecott Award? March 23 2003
By Aubrey
Of all the children's books I have borrowed/read, this has to be one of the best bedtime stories. I was yawning by page two, and I wasn't even tired. My daughter was looking around the room & sighing while I read it. Do the Caldecott judges keep children in mind when they award these books?
While I can appreciate the idea of living your dream, no matter the cost, the "tale" itsself was drawn out, boring and choppy. The story could have been told & illustrated with *much* more whimsy, for such an interesting fellow/life. I can imagine what a great book this could have been.
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By "jm_va"
My son (7) thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was his first biography and he was very interested to learn about the farmer-scientist who loved snow. We were lucky enough to attend a Family Day at the National Museum of American History (Wash DC) where the author read the story and told the gathered families about writing, editing and publishing a book. The museum staff then had snowflake & microscope activities for children to enjoy.
My son was so inspired and excited by the story and the day's events that he suggested, when reading the book in mid January, that we throw a "Snowflake Bentley" party. We picked Feb 9th, Wilson Bentley's birthday, and invited all the neighborhood kids over. A couple of parents read the book and then kids either cut out or painted snowflakes. We had a copy of Wilson Bentley's book available so they could see all the different snowflakes he photographed. We ate cake decorated in a snowflake pattern.
It was a great way to share this wonderful book. Many of the kids requested to borrow the book afterwards.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Snowflake Bentley July 1 2003
...I chose Snowflake Bentley for my Caldecott Presentation in Childrens Literature. This book gives children a rich history lesson in a personal and meaningful way. It helps children to become better acquainted with a important person and learn the reasoning behind what he was interested in. The book also gives little facts on the sides of every page which are interesting to look over. I recommend this book for children and parents to read to their children.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An endearing true story Dec 27 2002
The inspiring true story of photographer and self-made scientist Wilson "Snowflake" Bentley proves that anyone can achieve their dream. Born of humble means on a Vermont farm in 1865, Bentley was fascinated with weather and devoted his life to studying snow crystals. With the aid of his parents, who sacrificed their life's savings so he could buy the proper equipment, Bentley created photographs that provided the world with invaluable insight into snow crystals.

Mary Azarian illustrates this charmer with warm, hand-colored woodcuts that create an appropriately old-fashioned feel. The simple main text of this 1999 Caldecott Medal winner flows well with the charming illustrations. Sidebars on each page add additional details that maintain interest for older readers and allow the main text to remain focused on the story.
I found this very inspirational and a joy to read. My only complaint is the dearth of actual photographs by Bentley. The entire book builds interest in the photographs, but only three tiny copies of the actual photographs are shown on the last page.
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By A Customer
I cannot fathom how this book won the Caledecott award. It is excruciatingly boring. Yes, it's very informative, but there is absolutely nothing fun or fanciful about it. It reads like a science textbook. This book is terribly dull and although it was given us as a gift (by a grammar school teacher of course!) I wouldn't inflict it on my children and dontated it to the library. The woodcuts are lovely which is why it got two stars instead of just one.
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4.0 out of 5 stars No two are alike.... May 22 2002
By Jay
This is the true story of Wilson "Snowflake" Bentley. He devoted his life to the study of and photography of snowflakes. His Vermont neighbors in the late-1800s thought he must be crazy to try to take pictures of what was all around them anyway. Still he persevered and spent his family's entire savings on a specialized camera. Over time, he be-came the world's most0recognized authority on snowflakes. His photographs became parts of many university collections. This book is inspiring for children to follow their dreams. As well, it presents a lot of factual information. The illustrations are decent and complement the story adequately. They are picturesque and scenic, though human characteristics tend to be exaggerated.
Why 4 stars?:
I found this to be an inspiring story that many, but certainly not all, children were interested in. There are a lot of additional factual notes in the margins. While I found these interesting, many children were not sure what to do with them when reading themselves. These notes are on a much higher reading level and were sometimes too difficult for them. Still, the book is a nice introduction to the genre of biography.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Review of Snowflake Bentley Jan. 28 2002
By A Customer
I really enjoyed reading the story of Snowflake Bentley. Jacqueline Briggs Martin does an excellent job of telling the accomplishments of Willian Bentley in a way that is exciting and entertaining to children. Snow brings much excitment to all children, they love playing in it and sledding so to read about a man who dedicated his life to snowflakes is fascinating. This story shows how hard Wilson Bentley worked to show the world what he loved. This story gives a great example to children, the kids see that with hard work you can accomplish whatever you want. Snowflake Bentley is not like any biography I have read before, it gives justice to William Bentley's accomplishments but written in a story like form that will interests the children. The facts on the side of each page are a great additive of information as well.
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