The Water Horse

by Dick King-Smith (1990)

Dick King-Smith is probably best known as the author of Babe: The Gallant Pig.  The Water Horse is a mischievous romp and another animal lovers’ delight, a la Dick King-Smith.  King-Smith is a natural story teller, and this tale is told in the manner of an old-school “fireside chat.”

The Water Horse is a mystical tale set in Scotland 1930s.  King-Smith draws readers in right from the start.  After a powerful storm, Kirstie and her little brother, Angus, find a mysterious egg on the beach. They bring it home. They put the mysterious egg in the bathtub…and the story develops and grows from there. Crusoe, ‘the water horse,’ is hatched, and Kirstie and Angus must care for him and adapt as he grows.  It becomes both a suspenseful and loveable story as the children determine what course is best for Crusoe.  Naturally, King-Smith works in all manner of Scottish detail and native expressions.  (Lakes, of course, are Lochs.)

At 120 pages, The Water Horse makes for a fine introductory level chapter book to share and read aloud.  Children’s eyes will dance at the humorous prose and widen at the developing suspense, and their minds will grow as King-Smith’s descriptive prose  illustrates each turn of events.

When you choose The Water Horse as your One School, One Book selection, you will invite a virtual kelpie into your classroom and your students’ homes. Who wouldn’t love their very own Loch Ness monster as a one-of-a-kind, friendly, mythological pet?