Wilson “Snowflake” Bentley

January 15, 2009

Tonight the temperatures are dipping in the negative numbers, plus add the wind chill, equals Brrrr!  Cold is not my favorite;  I’d prefer spring to summer any day.  So, when I glanced at the dedications, I began sharing my head.  Mary Azarian, the illustrator for Snowflake Bentley, writes:

For all the snow lovers of the world, who – like me – think that snow is like chocolate; there is never enough.”

I do enjoy the white, sparkling beauty of newly fallen snow, so I can grasp that a young Wilson Bentley could become fascinated with snow.  Wilson believed that the beauty of a snowflake was a treasure – no two alike.  He lived for snowstorms.  “I never know when I will find some wonderful prize.”

Snowflake Bentley is a blended genre of narrative nonfiction and informational text.  On the side columns,  Jacqueline Briggs Martin has added information paralleling the current part in history.  I appreciate the voice that is added through this format.  I think this format brings to life the biography of Wilson Bentley in a way that your students will respond and find fascinating.  Mary Azarian illustrates in an almost-cartoon-like format, grabbing more of the reader’s attention.

As a class, after you’ve read the book, talk about the character of Wilson Bentley.  He persevered through the cold and enjoyed the moment.  He was self-motivated, learning at home and experimenting.  He was patient, very precise and careful with each snowflake.  He had a dream and worked toward it his entire life.  Wilson Bentley wanted to give the world a gift, and he was finally able to publish his book when he was sixty-six years old.  Wow!  We need to talk to our kids about striving for a goal and keep working at it, in school, in life.
Savorings for reading and in writing for Snowflake Bentley:
  • Biography with voice
  • Passage of Time – Each part of W. Bentley’s life that is highlighted, the focus is on the progress of his work; very self-motivated.
  • Perseverance – “He waited for hours for just the right crystal and didn’t notice the cold.”
  • Character traits