Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Snowflake Bentley (Caldecott Medal Book)Snowflake Bentley, written by Jacqueline Briggs Martin, illustrated by Mary Azarian. (ages 4-8) This beautiful picture book (1999 Caldecott Medal winner) is the biographical story of W.A. Bentley. Young Wilson Bentley was fascinated by the six-sided frozen miracles that are snowflakes, and once he acquired a microscope with a camera, his childhood preoccupation became a scientific life study. His countless exquisite photographs examining the tiny crystals and their delicate, mathematical structures are still used in nature photography today.
The wonderful woodcuts by Mary Azarian perfectly highlight the author's tender storytelling and help communicate the homey-ness of the life of this determined and often misunderstood boy, who lived in Vermont with his very supportive parents (they spent their own savings to buy him the special camera when he was only 17 years old!)  When Bentley first begins to use the camera, he makes mistake after mistake, but he doesn't give up!  After much perserverance, he finally figures out how to photograph snowflakes, all the while enduring criticism and scoffing from his neighbors and the local farmers.

Bentley later wrote:  The average dairy farmer gets up at dawn because he has to go to work in the cow yard.  I get up at dawn, too.  But it is because I want to find some leaf, hung with dew; or a spider web which the dew has made into the most delicate ropes of pearls...I take my camera with me, get down on my knees in the wet grass, and photograph these exquisite bits of nature. Because I do this I can show these lovely things to people who never would have seen them without my help.  They will get their daily quart of milk, all right.  Other farmers will attend to that.  But I think I am giving them something which is just as important. 

His hard work paid off and his gift to the world - a book about snowflakes - was finally published.  It's still available today, and if you child is interested, I would encourage you to find it at your local library, or buy it:

SNOW CRYSTALSSnow Crystals (Dover photography collections) - by W.A. Bentley and W.J. Humphreys, contains over 2,000 photomicrographs of snowflakes, plus slides of frost, rime, glaze, dew and hail. The introduction by meteorologist W. J. Humphreys discusses techniques of photographing snow crystals, the science of crystallography, classification and markings. Your child will enjoy thumbing through page after page of the beautiful snow crystal photographs!


  1. Remember the 39 cent stamps a while back? They featured his photos of snowflakes:
    I love this...learning about him was one of the homeschooling lessons for my daugther. I would really like to get this book! Thanks for sharing!!!

  2. Yes! I loved those stamps! And this book would be a great resource for homeschoolers. :)