The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins

by Barbara Kerley (Author) Brian Selznick (Illustrator)

The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins
Reading Level: 4th – 5th Grade
Can you fathom a time when almost no one in the world knew what a dinosaur looked like? That was true in the mid-nineteenth century, until Victorian artist Waterhouse Hawkins built the first life-size models of dinosaurs, first in his native England and later in New York City, and dazzled the world with his awe-inspiring creations.

With impeccable attention to detail, Barbara Kerley unearths a story of consuming passion, triumph, loss, and courage--and ultimately, of an extraordinary legacy that lives on today. Caldecott Medalist Brian Selznick celebrates this complex and fascinating individual through luminous, soul-stirring paintings that form a visual masterpiece.
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Kirkus Review - Children

Starred Review


Starred Review
Appealing on many levels, this will be a favorite dinosaur book for years to come.

School Library Journal

Gr 2-5-A picture-book presentation about the efforts of Hawkins to erect the first life-sized models of dinosaurs on both sides of the Atlantic. A Victorian artist and sculptor, he was well respected in England, and his reputation insured his being invited to construct replicas of creatures no one had ever seen and to unveil them at the newly constructed Crystal Palace. Kerley's spirited text and Selznick's dramatic paintings bring Hawkins's efforts into clear focus, including his frustrating experience in New York City when Boss Tweed set vandals loose in his workshop. Both author and illustrator provide copious notes of biographical material delineating Hawkins's works, and Selznick's trips to Philadelphia to view a rare scrapbook that is the model for this book's design and to London to see the original Crystal Palace models. Painstakingly researched, written and illustrated with careful attention to detail, this book presents the fervor and spirit of a dedicated, little-known individual whose conceptions-however erroneous by today's discoveries-astounded the minds and stirred the imaginations of scientists then involved in the actual birth of paleontology. A distinguished book in every way.-Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NY

Copyright 2001 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review

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. (Oct.)

Copyright 2001 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Distinctions and Praise for The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins (partial listing)

Caldecott Honor Book
ALA Notable Children's Book NAPPA Gold Award Winner
Orbis Pictus Honor Book for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children
Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year, 2001
CBC/NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People
CBC/NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Books for Children
New York Public Library - 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing

Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
October 20, 2001
BISAC categories
JNF003050 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Animals | Dinosaurs & Prehistoric Creatures
Library of Congress categories
19th century
Great Britain
Hawkins, B. Waterhouse
Caldecott Medal
Honor Book 2002 - 2002
Book Sense Book of the Year Award
Nominee 2002 - 2002
Bluebonnet Awards
Nominee 2003 - 2003
Garden State Children's Book Awards
Winner 2004 - 2004
Sequoyah Book Awards
Nominee 2003 - 2004
Orbis Pictus Award
Honor Book 2002 - 2002

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