The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins – a true story for history and dinosaur lovers

th-9A little-known true story about the first man to construct life-size dinosaur models.


Bibliographic Info:  Kerley, B. &  Selznick, B., The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins: An Illuminating History of Mr. Waterhouse Hawkins, Artist and Lecturer. Scholastic (2001)  Formats: Hardcover ISBN: 978-0439114943, Paperback, Audible. 48 pages  Price: $17.99  Reading Level / Grade Level Equivalent: 3.3  Interest Level: K-4  Genre: Biography, Nonfiction  Major Themes: Dinosaurs, Historic Figures, Art, Wonder and Imagination


th-1Summary:  Once there was a time when no one knew what a dinosaur looked like. It was the mid-1800s when talented artist Waterhouse Hawkins built the first life-size dinosaur models.  In the Caldecott honor-winning The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins, author Barbara Kerley and illustrator Brian Selznick tell the true tale of the life of Hawkins.  We learn about his early fossil studies, a New Year’s Eve dinner party he hosted (inside a life-size model of an iguanodon) with leaders in the field of paleontology, and the collapse of Central Park’s dinosaur museum (along with the heart-breaking destruction of Hawkin’s works).  The pieces of Hawkin’s destroyed dinosaurs were buried in Central Park.


dinoReview:  Awe-inspiring wonder permeates Kerley’s text and Selznick’s illustrations throughout The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins.  An imagination-inspiring image portrays a child sitting on a bench in Central Park. The child is drawing pictures of animals in the upper half while broken pieces of Hawkin’s dinosaurs lie buried underground in the lower half of the illustration.  A dinosaur’s curious eye peers up at the young illustrator and the overall effect inspires wonder.  Selznick’s dramatic and ghostly illustrations are a highlight in this amazing storybook.


th-2Significance:  This is a true story of a little-known historic figure who wanted to educate the world about a little-known topic at his time in history (the mid-1800s).  Today, that little-known topic is one of the most popular among children. 

Read-alikes:  The Invention of Hugo Cabret (2007), Wonderstruck (2011), The Houdini Box (2001)

Links:  Author’s Website, Scholastic, Illustrator’s Note, Amazon.com

Awards:  2001 Caldecott Honor Book

Other Reviews Links:  ALA Booklist, Goodreads, Kirkus

Why I chose it:  I chose to review this story because its illustrations truly inspire wonder.

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Written by Tom Schween, founder of storytimeWOW!  Use your local library to check out books for free.