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Snowflake Bentley (Caldecott Medal Book) Hardcover – September 28, 1998
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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
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.
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Beautiful pictures, great story, well written but putting it aside until next year to see if it is more interesting to them then.
This is a very good book, no doubt about that, written by Jacqueline Briggs Martin and illustrated by Mary Azarian (my favorite parts are the woodcut snowflakes), but it lacks the personal touch, the warmth of the other bio about "Snowflake Bentley" ~ "My Brother Loved Snowflakes," by Mary Bahr and illustrated by Laura Jacobsen.
The woodcut illustrations are well-done, but are not as much "fun" as the smooth, wonderfully colorful pastels and stencils of Ms. Jacobsen, and the story is told more matter-of-factly than the other book.
Even tho' I am pleased to have both in my library, having been a huge fan of Mr. Bentley for many years, I would go to the second tome more often than the first, if I were to ever pick them up for light reading...and to introduce my new Grandson to the wonders of Nature, especially the beauty of snow and ice and other microscopic sights.
Yes, as I sit and reflect on the fact that one is a so-called award winner and one is not, I have to say that, unlike other critics and "experts," I will continue to trust my own instincts ~ and my own heart.