Archives for January 2018

Snowflake Bentley


Author – Jacquelyn Briggs Martin     Illustrator – Mary Azarian

From the time he was a small boy, 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. “Of all the forms of water the tiny six-pointed crystals of ice called snow are incomparably the most beautiful and varied.” — Wilson Bentley.

Meet the Illustrator

Illustrator Mary Azarian was born on December 8, 1940, in Washington, D.C. She grew up on a small farm in northern Virginia. She started making woodcuts when she was a young girl, and then studied the printing process when she went to college.
After she married, Mrs. Azarian lived with her husband on a small farm in Vermont. They gardened, made maple syrup, and raised cows, chickens, sheep, horses, and oxen. In the 1960s she was a teacher for grades 1 through 8 in a one-room schoolhouse.
Mary Azarian frequently creates her artwork for books by using woodcut prints. This is a very time-consuming process. First, she draws each picture on a block of wood. She cuts away the parts of the picture that will be white. She then rolls ink over the design. She puts the inked block on the bottom of her nineteenth-century handpress. Next, she places paper on top of the block and rolls a heavy cylinder over the paper to print it. Finally, she hand-colors the picture with watercolors. Her woodcut prints have the look of rural folk art.
  • Fabulous Pinterest ideas to use with Snowflake Bentley including a virtual tour of the museum!
  • Below is a must-see short documentary about Snowflake Bentley – Wilson A. Bentley (1865-1931), the first man to ever photograph a snowflake.

Snow Day!

Author – Lester L. Laminack
Illustrator – Adam Gustavson

I can still remember the thrill of waking up to my parents calling up the stairs,

“No school today! Boy, did it ever snow last night!”

from Snow Day

from Snow Day

My sisters and I would race, wide-eyed, to the window and gaze out at a winter wonderland, squealing with delight at what vast possibilities this ‘snow day’ would hold.  Reading Snow Day! brought back this rush of excitement. You’ll be transported into a frigid, icy playground as the family dreams of enjoying a winter’s day.  The vibrant artwork only adds to the magical wonder of this delightful book, which will have readers of all ages wishing they could be whisked away into enjoying their very own snow day!

Two other excellent books about snow days, which are also beautifully illustrated:
Snow Riders by Constance W. McGeorge
SNOW by Uri Shulevitz

Booklist Review
After hearing the weatherman forecast snow, two young children gleefully fantasize about various activities they can do if it snows enough to close school. Each activity snuggling on the sofa with hot chocolate, building a snow fort filled with a zillion snowballs, sledding seems to include their father.

Unfortunately, the snow doesn’t appear, leaving the family members rushing through their morning routines so as not to be late for school. Then comes the surprise: the narrator is the father, who happens to be a teacher. The illustrations, in muted oils, show the jubilant family anticipating the snow and the activities that they would undertake. The figures fill the pages giving a sense of intimacy, and the scenes are viewed from a variety of perspectives, adding to the excitement and chaos. Children (and parents) will identify with the strong wish for a day away from the routine, as well as the mad rush when things don’t pan out.

Fresh Apple Bars with Snowy Topping

Introducing SNOW!

3 eggs
1 3/4 cup sugar
1 cup oil

1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups flour

2 cups diced apples
1 cup nuts (optional)
powdered sugar (“snow”) for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat eggs, sugar and oil together. Add sifted dry ingredients. Fold in apples and nuts and pour into a greased and floured 9″x13″ pan. Bake 40-45 minutes. When done, let your child sprinkle with “snow” (powdered sugar) and cut into bars.

Today seemed like a great day to try out our recipe (It’s 18 degrees out…).

Measuring just so…

Stir and stir some more. And always have a pink princess pen close by in case you have to make changes to the recipe.

I’m thinking this is going to be delicious. (We used Honey Crisp apples)

The house smells DIVINE! Now it is time for some snow!!

All together now…  Let it snow – let it snow – let it snow!

Maybe we overdid it a bit on the powdered sugar – but we were having so much watching it “snow”!

DELICIOUS… Absolutely delicious!  (And just the right amount of…snow.)

Puffy Paint Snowmen

What about making some homemade puffy paint to continue our Fireflies’ snow theme?  I wanted 3D snow for my kids to paint with – and I made it!  I could not believe how easy this was – promise (read on).   I was actually on my way out the door, when I decided to make my paint-snow and the project took all of 10 minutes from beginning to end (with no child involvement, however…).

I gathered my materials.  The recipe calls for equal parts flour, salt and water.

Easy – three ingredients that this non Julia Child had on hand!  I started with 2 T of each and came up with  a smooth runny paste (aka puffy paint).  Since I was going for snow paint, I didn’t add any food coloring, but you certainly could.  Wonder how glitter would have responded to this mixture?  Does it microwave?

So far so good…  Next I tried a small circle on a piece of cardboard I had nearby, and microwaved it for 30 secs.   I was so surprised when I removed my test “painting” from the microwave.  It was dry and puffy!  Oh me of little faith.  Surely it couldn’t be this easy.

I was intrigued and decided to go for the snowman.  I used a piece of blue card stock and painted my snowman – quickly. (Remember, I was on my way out the door…)

It took longer in the microwave – about three minutes.  Just make sure the middle is puffy and dry.  You can watch it dry from the outside in.   You can see how the edges of the paper curled up a bit.  Though not a deal breaker – If you have cardboard or foam board, use that, and have your child paint a background scene for their snowman.

For 2 regular sized snowman, use about 1/4 c of each ingredient depending on how big you plan on your snowmen becoming.  They will not spread out like cookie dough does while cooking.  It is okay to put it back in the microwave to keep cooking…  Again, for my full sized snowman, it took 2 – 3 minutes, but I kept checking throughout that time.  You want the middle to totally puff up.

Below is my finished 1st try awaiting some painted button eyes, a corncob nose and an old silk hat.   But that will have to wait for when my little ones come to visit.  Oh, how they will love to paint on something other than flat paper AND see their puffy creation come to life!
Here’s my latest try with my littlest one (4-years-old).
A perfect impromptu project to do at home if you have flour, salt, and water!
Deni Corbett
Find a copy of Lois Ehlert’s book, Snowballs to inspire the budding creative in your home.  Your child will enjoy poring over the illustrations and identifying the objects selected to adorn Ehlert’s snow family!