The Water Horse

by Dick King-Smith (1990)

An Intro and Sweet Spot selection.

Dick King-Smith is probably best known as the author of Babe: The Gallant Pig.  But, he has a large cannon of delightful books with animals – real and fantastical – as the stars. The Water Horse is a mischievous romp and another animal lovers’ delight.  King-Smith is a natural story teller, and this tale has the easy feel of a well-loved folk tale.

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, secretly put it in the bathtub…and the story develops and grows from there. With help from Grumble, their crusty curmudgeon of a grandfather, they care from Crusoe, the water horse.  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 language 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?