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The Dinosaurs Of Waterhouse Hawkins (Caldecott Honor Book) Hardcover – October 1, 2001


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 550L (What's this?)
  • Series: Caldecott Honor Book
  • Hardcover: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press; Library Binding edition (October 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0439114942
  • ISBN-13: 978-0439114943
  • Product Dimensions: 12.3 x 9.4 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #256,078 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"Can you fathom a time when almost no one in the world knew what a dinosaur looked like?" Barbara Kerley and Brian Selznick can--and it was a time when people used words like "fathom" a lot, about 150 years ago. This author-illustrator team became experts on the subject, delving deeply into the life of Victorian artist Waterhouse Hawkins, the first person to ever summon up, sketch, mold, and fabricate these ancient giants into full-size models.

The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins, presented in breathlessly earnest chapbook style ("A True Dinosaur Story in Three Ages"), follows the life of Hawkins from his early fossil studies to the first iguanodon that he extrapolates into existence for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The story then follows his subsequent victories and defeats at home and abroad: a triumphantly unorthodox New Year's Eve dinner party with the fathers of paleontology; the unveiling of Dinosaur Island; Boss Tweed's scuttling of a planned Paleozoic Museum in Central Park, and the destruction of years of Hawkins's work in the process.

And the story is all true, although this veracity does make the pacing a bit clunky in spots. Then again, Kerley and Selznick have researched their hero with meticulous care (check out the copious endnotes), so perhaps only Hawkins himself can be blamed for leading a life that didn't always progress in perfect dramatic form. Overshadowing the narrative, though, are Selznick's stately, ghostly illustrations--of towering megalosaurs and Hawkins shuffling about with cane and top hat--which more than make up the difference. (Ages 9 to 12) --Paul Hughes

From Publishers Weekly

One look at this amazing-but-true picture book introducing the little-known artist Hawkins and his dreams of dinosaurs, and kids may well forget about Jurassic Park. As a child growing up in 19th-century London, Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins discovered his passion: drawing and sculpting animal figures, especially prehistoric dinosaurs. His artistic talent and his goal--to build life-size models of dinosaurs envisioned from scientific fossils--led him to work with noted anatomist Richard Owen and complete a special commission from Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, an installation of dinosaur statues, much of which still stands in contemporary Sydenham, England. During the project, Hawkins courted the scientific community by hosting a lavish New Year's Eve dinner party inside his life-size model of an iguanodon (the bill of fare is reproduced on the final page). Selznick (The Houdini Box, see p. 94) builds to the dramatic moment by showing readers a peek at giant reptilian toes through a parted curtain. Kerley (Songs of Papa's Island) leads readers into further exploration of Hawkins by presenting copious but never dull details of the stages of his life and works, including efforts in the U.S., thwarted by Boss Tweed. Throughout, she suffuses her text with a contagious sense of wonder and amazement. Selznick enthusiastically joins the excitement with his intricate compositions, capturing Hawkins's devotion to his art and depicting the dapper man with wild white hair as a spirited visionary and showman. The elegant design on tall pages gives the dinosaur models their due from various perspectives, and scenery of the period additionally grounds the work in historic context. Extensive author and illustrator notes denote the extensive (and fun) research both undertook for this extraordinary volume. Ages 6-up.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.


More About the Author

From the author:

I had two favorite pastimes as a kid.

One was playing dress-ups with my friends. We were fancy ladies with oh-so-complicated lives or pioneer women crossing the prairie. As a teen I became very involved with theater, both on and off the stage. (Basically, still playing dress-ups, only now with makeup, lights, and a stage.)

My other pastime was reading stacks and stacks of books--and sometimes, reading the same book over and over.

The dress-ups, the theater, the stacks of books, and, I now see, my work as a writer, have all been fueled by my life-long fascination with people and the story of their lives.

Come visit my website to see the stories I tell. www.barbarakerley.com




Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Amazing story for the dinosaur lover.
love great books
This book tells the story of the creative genius Waterhouse Hawkins who paints and creates life size models of dinosaurs way back in the 1800s.
Barb Mechalke
The illustrations are wonderfully vibrants, thanks again to the wonderful Brian Selznick!
A. Williams

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on February 13, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Occasionally, from time to time, I like to trick little children. And as a children's librarian in a public library, I have plenty of time and opportunity to do so. So when I'm in the right mood and I feel particularly devilish, I mosey on over to the biography section of the library and ever-so-casually pull out "The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins". After determining that no one has seen me, I then amble over to the picture book area and prominently display the book. The bait now laid, I go back to my desk and wait in anticipation. It doesn't take long. Soon the attractive cover of the book (showing a man holding a dinosaur model with a gigantic dinosaur head looming behind him) catches the eye of some wayward traipsing tot. The child will look at it, squeal gleefully, and pluck the item from the shelf without so much as a howdy-doo. My job complete, I sit back and soak in just how clever I am. You see, the kid doesn't know it yet, but I've tricked `em. They thought they were finding just another of the thousands of millions of dinosaur books out there WHEN IN FACT this book is different. It is a highly educational biography of the man who helped bring dinosaurs to the forefront of the human imagination. The book may well be many a child's first biography for this very reason. So while they think they're getting another dino book, they are in fact getting an entirely different critter altogether. It's an incredibly satisfying feeling to get a child to read something quite as good and original as this particular book. I do not regret my actions in the least.

Author Barbara Kerley explains in her afterword where she got the gumption to write about Waterhouse Hawkins in the first place.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Roz Levine on January 7, 2002
Format: Hardcover
"Can you fathom a time when almost no one in the world knew what a dinosaur looked like?" Well, back in the mid-eighteen hundreds, that was just the case. Archeologists and paleontologists had found dinosaur fossils and bits and pieces of their skeletons, but no one had actually drawn or created a model of what one might have really looked like. Enter Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins. He had always had a passion for drawing and sculpting animals, and now as an adult, realized his dream project, commissioned by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, of building life sized dinosaur statues for all the world to see..... Take a little biography and science, add some mystery, history, humor and suspense, and you have the makings of one intriguing and captivating story. Barbara Kerley and Brian Selznick take us from England to America and back with this thrilling and unique story about this special man of vision. Ms Kerley's detailed text is exciting, thoughtful, and inspiring, and beautifully complemented by Mr Selznick's dazzling and intricate illustrations. Together word and art create a vivid and lasting picture of a man who followed his dream through both triumph and disaster. Fascinating end notes are as entertaining as the story, enhance and augment learning and should open the door to interesting lessons and discussions. Perfect for youngsters 8-12, The Dinosaurs Of Waterhouse Hawkins is a treasure to be savored and enjoyed each and every time it's read.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Rob on October 23, 2001
Format: Hardcover
What is most amazing about this delightful true tale is the skillful way that Brian Selznick has captured the excitiment of the story in his remarkable illustrations. This book will surely be mentioned when Caldecott time rolls around. We especially like the rich colors and the incredible scene of Waterhouse's dinner party in the dinosaur. The story is quirky and funny. Kids love it, and adults find it a fascinating anecdote to history.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Beverly J. Scott on August 24, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I purchased this as a gift for my four year old Grandson and found myself fasinated with the book. The story, although true, was new to me. I was entranced with not only the narrative but also the great and colorful art work. This is a book for all ages and I predict it will become a classic for those of us who marvel at the number of and various sizes of the different dinosaurs. A perfect gift for that Dinosaur-loving Child in your life.
Beverly J Scott author of Righteous Revenge
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By BookBuzz on October 1, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is the finely illustrated story of Waterhouse Hawkins, who gained world renown through his life-sized sculptures of dinosaurs. His interpretation of what dinosaurs looked like shaped the vision of these creatures in the minds of many generations to follow. The book not only relates the triumph and tragedy of Hawkins' life, it also describes the interesting process he used to make his sculptures. This is a great addition to any personal or school library.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Susan K. David on November 12, 2002
Format: Hardcover
There are very few biographies out there for young children that capture their interest. My 8 year old daughter chose this book for her biography book report, was entranced by it and by the subject -- Bejamin Waterhouse Hawkins.
Surprisingly I was also intigued by the book, found the illustrations magnificent and the story "stranger than fiction". Kudos!
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By John Burris on January 5, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Selznick and Kerley have created a truly wonderful childrens book. We need more books like this revealing to young readers in such a wonderful way the many fascinating stories from the world of paleontology. There are thousands of dinosaur books for kids, many of which are excellent (and many of which simply are not) but not many like this. I love books that take a closer look at single individuals and their achievements within the larger context of their times. The author and illustrator have done a wonderful job of conveying to the reader what it must have been like when the concept of the dinosaur was just being born. I can't say enough about this gorgeous book so I'll just shut up after imploring you to buy this whether you have kids or not (but especially if you do!)!
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