Tuesday, February 26, 2013

My Favorite Picture Books: Snowflake Bentley

by Jacqueline Briggs Martin, illustrated by Mary Azarian

As I write this, we are snowbound with what might be the greatest snowfall I've ever seen in my time in Kansas. It seemed an appropriate morning to fill my teacup and write a review of this book.

Wilson Bentley, a native of Vermont, was fascinated by both photography and snowflakes. This biography emphasizes his perseverance, experimentation, dedication, and appreciation of the natural world. In the sidebars of many of the pages, the author gives facts about his life.

I love how his parents supported his dreams. His mother and a set of encyclopedias were his teachers. She provided him with a microscope. Later, though they could not quite understand his dream, his parents spent their savings to buy a camera with a microscope. Can you imagine what the neighbors thought when they learned the camera cost as much as a herd of ten cows? Yet what a blessing it was to their son!

When the people of Vermont scoffed at his dream of photographing snowflakes, he was undeterred.
Willie said the photographs would be his gift to the world.
And he was right. You can still find books of his photographs in print, like this one.

I love this book despite the illustrations, rather than because of them, but they are friendly and inviting. My favorite shows Wilson trudging away through a snowstorm on the page on which he passes away, perfectly matching the text and tone of the page.

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