Snowflake Bentley (book)

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Snowflake Bentley
CM SnowflakeBentleyA.jpg
Snowflake Bentley
Author Jacqueline Briggs Martin
Illustrator Mary Azarian
Country United States
Genre Children's picture book
Publisher Houghton Mifflin
Publication date
ISBN 978-0-395-86162-2
OCLC 36676027
551.57/841/092 B 21
LC Class QC858.B46 M37 1998

Snowflake Bentley is a children's picture book written by Jacqueline Briggs Martin and illustrated by Mary Azarian. Published in 1998, the book is about Wilson Bentley, the first known photographer of snowflakes. Azarian won the 1999 Caldecott Medal for her illustrations.[1]


Snowflake Bentley is a medium size book, measuring 10 ½ by 10 ¼ inches, and has 16 pages of illustrations. Majority of the pictures are large colorful prints, which is the typical art style of artist Mary Azarian, and each picture summarizes the wording for that page. Many of the pages have a vertical side bar in each layout, with a light blue background, and white snowflakes that contains factual information about Wilson Bentley. Azarian also uses a black bold frame around her illustrations, which tries to represent a photo that has been taken.


Based on a true story, Martin has written about the first known snowflake photographer, Wilson Bentley, and his interests of capturing snowflakes. Wilson lived on a farm with his family in Jericho, Vermont, between Lake Champlain, and Mount Mansfield. The annual snowfall there can reach up to about 120 inches. Wilson was very fond of snowflakes, and wanted to one day capture them to share with others. With a telescope, Wilson tries to depict the snowflakes through drawings, but is never able to finish as the snow would melt too quickly. As Wilson grew older, he asked his parents if they could get him a camera, so that he can photograph snowflakes. Wilson’s parents decide to spend theirs savings to buy Wilson his camera, because they wanted to support his dreams in capturing snowflake photos. With his new profound camera, Wilson went out to take hundreds of pictures. At the beginning Wilson’s photos were a bunch of failures, but that did not stop him from pursuing his dream. Wilson furthered himself by experimenting more with lighting, lenses and camera exposures. Although, not many people were interested in what Wilson was up to, and did not care for pictures. When it wasn't winter, Wilson loved taking pictures of nature, but taking snow pictures would always be his favorite. Wilson would even hold evening slideshows on his lawn to show his friends. Later down the road, Wilson wrote a book about snow and published his photos in magazines. When Wilson went to go publish his first book to share to the world, he got caught in a blizzard on his trip, which caused him to catch pneumonia, and become ill. Two weeks later, Wilson dies of the illness. In memory of him, Wilson’s friends and neighbors built a museum of his work so all would know of “Snowflake” Bentley.

Critical Reception[edit]

Snowflake Bentley received many reviews. Kirkus reviews says “This is a lyrical biographical tribute to a farmer…whose love of snow and careful camera work expanded both natural science and photography”,[2] and Horn book review says “The book exhibits a beautiful blend of Azarian’s splendid woodcuts, a lyrical text, and factual sidebars.”[3]


  1. ^ American Library Association: Caldecott Medal Winners, 1938 - Present. URL accessed 27 May 2009.
  2. ^ Kirkus Reviews
  3. ^ Horn Book Reviews
Preceded by
Caldecott Medal recipient
Succeeded by
Joseph Had a Little Overcoat