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The Secret Life of a Snowflake: An Up-Close Look at the Art and Science of Snowflakes Hardcover – January 1, 2010

5 out of 5 stars 52 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 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
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review

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.



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.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 11 years
  • Grade Level: 3 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 890 (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Voyageur Press; First edition (January 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0760336768
  • ISBN-13: 978-0760336762
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 0.5 x 11.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,547 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Kenneth Libbrecht knows perhaps more than anyone should about the science of snowflakes. He had his first exposure to the subject during many cold winters growing up on a farm outside of Fargo, North Dakota. He eventually made his way out of the snow and into the sun of Southern California, becoming a professor of physics at Caltech.

In the mid 1990's, Libbrecht's interest in the molecular dynamics of crystal growth led him back to his roots and into to a detailed study of how ice crystals grow from water vapor, which is essentially the physics of snowflakes. This ongoing endeavor seeks to better understand how crystals grow and how complex patterns emerge in the process. Libbrecht also furthered the art of snow crystal photography and has taken over 10,000 pictures of all different types of snowflakes. His books display many beautiful photographs and describe how these diminutive ice sculptures manage to appear, quite literally, out of thin air. In 2006, the U.S. Post Office created a set of commemorative first-class postage stamps featuring Libbrecht's snowflake photographs.

More news and views about snowflakes can be found at Libbrecht's web site -- www.SnowCrystals.com.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The photographs are amazing! The information is just the right length and at a level where grade school children can understand it. It explains how a snowflake is formed. There are lots of pictures and illustrations.
Our whole family found it fascinating!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Professor Kenneth Libbrecht's beautiful pictures of snow are the perfect backdrop for this insightful book on snow. The pictures will delight children, and the author also describes the process of taking photographs as well as the science of why snow has 6 sides (I won't give it away), how snow forms, and different forms snow can take.

I used this with pre-schoolers, but there are a number of words per page, so it may work even better with elementary school aged children.

The book deals less with the "art" side of the snowflake (the art is basically the pictures themselves), but the science is strong and makes up for it.
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I teach 3rd grade where there is no snow. We spend the week before winter break studying snowflakes. This book inspires ahhhs! and concentration in even the most unfocused. As a non-science major, I think well of the explanations and how it is pieced out.
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Simply, the best basic snowflake book ever! As a middle school science educator (and someone who is an adjunct professor at two universities) this book appeals to a wide variety of people - from my middle school students (who range from autistic, to special needs to advanced) to my colleagues. This is one book that everyone picks up and enjoys. The pictures are amazing and the science is great. A truly wonderful book. I would give it six stars if I could!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Amazing photographs! Great story. Even though this is a "kids" book, all the adults love it too. And I love Amazon, they make shopping so easy. Maybe too easy... I'm giving two other Kenneth Libbrecht books on snowflakes to loved ones this holiday season. Very cool introduction to science and photography for everyone.
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Wow! What a fantastic book! This is a book written for ages 6-12 I believe, but while it is written simple for younger understanding, it is a great book at any level! Gorgeous pics!! Would be a great addition to any teacher's collection too!
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Format: Hardcover
"The Secret Life of a Snowflake: An Up-Close Look at the Art & Science of Snowflakes" is a stunning collection of microscopic images of beautiful, perfect snowflakes. Filled with visual enchantment, "The Secret Life of a Snowflake" traces the life cycle of a snowflake, and gives many visual examples of comparable objects (such as a penny, or a needle) along with a snowflake to show its actual size. Surprisingly, there are many ways to make a snowflake, as well as different ways a snowflake can grow. Dr. Libbrecht confirms from his fascinating observations that indeed, no two six-sided snowflakes are alike, and indeed, all snowflakes are hexagonal. "The Secret Life of a Snowflake" is a glossary of incredible snowflake shapes and facts that will delight and educate juvenile readers ages 9-10 everywhere.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is beautifully set out and simple to understand. Dr. Kenneth Libbrecht has presented us with something truly beautiful and fascinating. I purchased this book as a gift for my eight-year old grandson and he (and his sisters) will love learning from it.
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