Snowflake Bentley



Lyrical prose explores a fascinating life.

What parents need to know

Positive messages
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Violence & scariness
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Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this look at the life of a self-taught scientist should maintain children's interest as they learn about snowflakes and nature.

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What's the story?

Everyone believes that no two snowflakes are alike. Why? Because Wilson Bentley spent his life photographing over 6,000 of them, and never found a match. From an early age, Bentley was fascinated by snow and wanted to share its beauty. Jacqueline Briggs Martin's eloquent text and Mary Azarian's colorful woodcuts illustrate his life and convey his enthusiasm for snow.


Is it any good?


This is an excellent choice for introducing biographies to young readers, especially because it is a life story of an inspirational subject who exhibits tenacity. Any child who has cut a folded-paper snowflake will appreciate Wilson Bentley's infatuation with the beautiful and intricate designs of snow crystals. Plainspoken as a Vermonter's speech, Jacqueline Martin's text is also lyrical. Fact-filled sidebars highlight specifics of Bentley's life and his discoveries.

Mary Azarian uses hand-colored woodcuts to illustrate Bentley's life, and a Vermont winter is skillfully captured. Country touches bring the past to life. As beautiful as these illustrations are, more examples of Bentley's photos would have been welcome. Strangely, in a book emphasizing the near uniqueness of snowflakes, each sidebar is decorated with the same set of snowflake designs.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about science and art. Do you think Bentley was an artist as well as a scientist?

Book details

Author:Jacqueline Briggs Martin
Illustrator:Mary Azarian
Book type:Non-Fiction
Publisher:Houghton Mifflin Children's Books
Publication date:January 1, 1998
Number of pages:30
Publisher's recommended age(s):4 - 7
Award:Caldecott Medal and Honors

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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