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.

Night Tree

Author:  Eve Bunting
Illustrator:  Ted Rand

In my autographed copy of Night Tree Eve Bunting wrote, “The woods are filled with wondrous secrets!”

Indeed, you may find yourself almost whispering as you read and turn the pages of this starry, moonlit story. As the young boy and his family make their way deep into the woods, carrying their special box and big red lantern, you’ll witness the wondrous secrets they see along the path. When, at last they arrive at “their Night Tree”, the box is opened and a special and heartwarming tradition begins to unfold.  After the tree is properly adorned, the children choose carols to sing.

Later that night, as the young boy lies in bed gazing up at the moon, he  thinks of what might be happening deep in the forest.  He knows that his family has brought Christmas in an unusual way to the forest animals, and wonders if they might be singing their own songs around the Night Tree.

Mary Kline

Publisher’s Weekly Review

A refreshing alternative to the tinsel and sugarplum commercialism of many Christmas offerings, Bunting’s arrestingly simple tale resonates with genuine warmth. A boy recounts his family’s annual Christmas Eve outing to a nearby wood, where they decorate a special tree (“It has been our tree forever and ever”) with fruit, seeds and strings of popcorn for the animals. Rand’s ( Knots on a Counting Rope ) atmospheric watercolors create a mood of hushed excitement as they enhance the festivity of the occasion–apple-cheeked figures exude a homey cheerfulness, their brightly colored caps and blanket sparkling against the deep tones of a nighttime forest. After a mug of cocoa in front of their masterpiece and heartfelt renditions of favorite songs, the family returns home, keenly aware of “the secrets all around us” and pleased with the notion that the animals have a place to celebrate Christmas. Parents will take heart at this uplifting book that celebrates the spirit of the season without undue moralizing.

Christmas Farm

Author: Mary Lyn Ray

Illustrator: Barry Root

Wilma had grown petunias and sunflowers for years. Now she was ready for something else. But what? When snow fell on the last of her sunflower stalks, Wilma still hadn’t decided how to make her garden different next year.  And now there was Christmas to think of. . .

Wilma bundled up, took her hand saw and climbed the hill behind her home. She selected the perfect tree for her parlor, and as she began to wrap it with lights, she knew. She knew what to plant instead of petunias. But she would need the help of Parker. Parker lived next door. He was five. Their adventure was about to begin. They would plant Christmas trees- dozens and dozens (over sixty dozen!)  Each year as the trees grew and matured, Parker was also growing along with them.

“During the winter some trees were lost to mice and deer, storm and ice. When spring came, Parker ran between the rows, counting. Six hundred and fifty-two was a big number to count, but Parker could do it now that he was eight.”

When Wilma and Parker had sold their last tree, they had the deep satisfaction of knowing that in places they never knew, there were trees they had grown wearing lights and balls and tinsel in their branches – green balsam branches that smelled the sweet smell of Christmas.

 

“This lovely tale celebrates intergenerational friendship and determination, growth and nature, and the joy of the holiday season.”  School Library Journal

Mary Kline