Last November (2003), I posted a review of a new book that impressed me immensely with its beauty and science: The Snowflake: Winter's Secret Beauty by Kenneth Libbrecht and Patricia Rasmussen, which I described as "the beautiful marriage of two sides of nature." This year, I can happily add that The Snowflake has issued a child: The Little Book of Snowflakes by Kenneth Libbrecht.
The Little Book of Snowflakes says it all in the title. It is little: 96 pages, and filled with snowflakes...well, actually snowflake photographs that won't melt away before their great beauty can be savoured. The author, Caltech Professor Kenneth Libbrecht, was raised in North Dakota and has an intimate relationship with snow and snowflakes. He has studied the scientific basis for their formation and forms, and in The Snowflake: Winter's Secret Beauty ably describes that science for us.
In The Little Book of Snowflakes, however, his words are minimal, sentences rather than paragraphs, but they, and the quotes from many great writers (Longfellow, Thoreau, Emerson, et al.) are like a dash of spice on the delicate beauty of the snow crystals. A prime example of one of these is: "It would seem that nature cannot be content in producing a plain snowflake." The photographs (approximately 148 grace the book), however, steal the show. They are the book. It has taken the photographic technology of the present to improve on the great pioneering work of Wilson A. "Snowflake" Bentley, a century ago, but the details in these snow crystals are incredibly portrayed, and the use of subtle coloured lighting to illuminate the crystals gives a gem-like quality to each photo. I lingered over many of the photos, tracing in my mind the subtle lines of the crystals.
With the upcoming holiday season, The Little Book of Snowflakes makes a wonderful gift for anyone with an appreciation of nature and beauty. Its small size it is truly a little book measuring about 15 cm (6 inches) square makes it an ideal stocking stuffer. If your gift-receiver is also a science fan, include a copy of The Snowflake: Winter's Secret Beauty and double the joy of giving.
I give my highest recommendation for The Little Book of Snowflakes. Even if you have a copy of The Snowflake, this small volume must be a part of your library.
Weather Doctor's Book Review: The Little Book Of Snowflakes ©2004, Keith C. Heidorn. All Rights Reserved.
Correspondence may be sent to: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.