Man Revealed Hidden Beauty to All

In my state of Alabama, snow is a rarity that thrills both young and old.  But in Vermont, folks consider it common as dirt. One long ago resident of this northern state, however, saw the hidden beauty in snow and made it his life’s work to show it to the world.

Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin, 1998

Post format:  A Tale of Two Books

A bonus for me is finding a good book that leads to another good book.   Take for instance Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin.  It tells the story of Wilson Bentley (1865-1931), a man who collected snow crystals and photographed them. This was no easy task considering their detail is microscopic and most melt upon contact.

Bentley’s parents spent their savings to buy the microscope camera he needed to photograph snowflakes. Mary Azarian’s artwork  for this book about his life won the 1998 Caldecott Medal, the top prize in children’s book illustration.

He gained little fame and no fortune with his photographs. They were published in book form, but he died less than a month later from pneumonia. Yet young readers can learn much from this man.  Here was someone happy simply following his passion.

“The little farmer came to be known as the world’s expert on snow…But he never grew rich.  He spent every penny on his pictures.  Willie said there were treasures in snow.”

Now interested in snowflakes myself, I looked around our school library and found a book that teaches how to make “artist quality snowflakes of your very own.”  Paper Snowflakes For All Ages by Robert P. Kelley (1996) contains more than 100 designs. Many are adapted from photographs such as the ones Bentley took.  Using these templates, my oldest daughter and I crafted snowflakes for the windows of our house this holiday season.  Who says you can’t have snow in the South?

BONUS BIT:  Here’s how we made our snowflakes.