The Water Horse

by Dick King-Smith

Paperback, 2000



Local notes

PB Kin





Knopf (2000), Edition: Reprint, 121 pages


In 1930, on the coast of Scotland, eight-year-old Kirstie finds a large egg which hatches into an unusual sea creature, and as he grows her family must decide what to do with him.

Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

121 p.; 5.2 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member Inky_Fingers
Well written, good characterization, fairly interesting plot, author has the rare gift of charm. I liked the idea of a book written from the point of view of the monster.
LibraryThing member Cheryl_in_CC_NV
One of my favorite fables from this author. Again, an illustrator I haven't seen in any of his other works, but one that drew pictures that work perfectly for the story. I like that the 'magic' element is plausible, and that there is plenty of humor but also just enough drama for young readers. The
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family story in the background is nice, too. The characters are a teeny bit shallow, but probably only noticeable to me because I write so many of these mini-reviews.
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LibraryThing member bplma
In the 1930s in rural scotland, a young girl and her brother find and hatch the egg of a mythical creature. As loved as any household pet, caring for 'Crusoe' pulls the family together as they look for ways to protect and hide the animal, eventually releasing it into Loch Ness. Parts of Eragon and
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shades of Free Willy, this lovely tale is about love and family and letting go. recommend for boys and girls, 3rd-5th or 6th grade.
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LibraryThing member laf
Second to best book I ever read. Really good. I really suggest you read it. The book is about siblings who find a water horse and raise it until he is big enough to go to a lake, and then to the ocean.
LibraryThing member stoog
Caruso, you need to forget all of the humans and learn to be with the fish.
LibraryThing member macfly_17
This is a nice story about a Scottish family that raises a sea creature from egg to monster-size. It is a fun story to read with children because it is excting and it has some entertaining pictures.
LibraryThing member AWCone
This was a really fantastic book. We saw the movie when it came out and loved it. I have to say that based on the movie, I thought the book would be much longer and frankly, more complex. What a delight that 3rd, 4th and 5th graders could read this story and really get in to it and appreciate it as
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fully as older children did the movie. With that said - the book and movie are VERY different elementally speaking. This would be one of those great books to assign where it would be blatantly obvious who read the book versus who watched the film. The story was well-crafted and left me wanting to read more of King-Smith's stuff (like Babe:the Gallant Pig which I haven't been interested in previously because the movie is so campy).
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LibraryThing member PatrickNavas
Smith, D. (1990). The Water Horse; New York: Random House Inc.

What are the fantasy elements of the story?

The fanciful element of this story begins with the discovery of a mysterious egg that washes up on the shore of a Scotland beach. A little girl, Kirstie, takes the egg home and puts it in the
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bathtub. The next day a strange but cute creature is hatched that the grandfather identifies as a “water horse” that the children name “Crusoe.” The creature grows extremely fast and turns out to be a gigantic sea creature reminiscent of the Loch Ness Monster!

How has the author made the story believable?

The author has made the story believable by the manner in which he places a fanciful creature like a water horse into a realistic setting with real humans who display real human emotions and reactions to the existence of such an extraordinary creature. Naturally, the humans who know the good-natured creature best grow attached to it. The humans who do not know the creature well are governed by fear and prejudice as opposed to knowledge.

Is the story logical and consistent within the framework established by the author? Explain why or why not.

The story (and ultimate outcome) is logical and consistent with the author’s framework. With the exception of the fanciful creature, the story that revolves around him seems very realistic when you think about how humans would actually react upon encountering an animal like a water horse. The animal is loved by the family but becomes feared by outsiders who perceive it as a dangerous threat.

Is the plot original and ingenious? What elements are particularly original?

The plot does have some elements of originality but the story as a whole was seemingly inspired by the old and familiar legend of the Loch Ness Monster of Scotland. The story is similar in some ways to the movies E.T. (about an alien) and Harry and the Hendersons (about a Bigfoot creature). All these stories revolve around an extraordinary or alien-like creature that is misunderstood by the surrounding world but adopted by a group of humans who become closely attached to it. The water horse presents a similar kind of story. It leaves readers with a good feeling since it magnifies the loving relationship that humans can have with animals or theoretical alien-like creatures and vice versa.

Is there a universal truth underlying the metaphor of the fantasy? What universal truth does the fantasy convey?

I think the universal truth underlying the element of fantasy has to do with the potential for human beings to have kindly, loving relationships with other beings, like animals. Although the water horse is a fanciful creature, I think the story is realistic in the depiction it gives of many kind-hearted people and children who are inclined to protect express affection for other sentient creatures.

How does the story compare with other books of the same kind or by the same author?

The story is similar to Smith’s other famous book, Babe, The Gallant Pig, in that it revolves around a very unique animal with a lot of personality who is misunderstood by the humans who do not really know him.
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LibraryThing member XjessicaflorenceX
its boring at the star t but then it gets better near the end :D i would like it better if it wasnt boring at the start !!!
LibraryThing member katie
Set in the 1930s, the story of a brother and sister who live by the sea in Scotland with their mother, her father whom they call Grumble, and their sailor father, who is often away for long periods. After a storm they find an object which turns out to be a kelpie or water-horse egg, and out of it
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hatches what is obviously meant to be the Loch Ness Monster as a baby. They secretly raise Crusoe (as they name it) -- which involves all kinds of problems as it gets bigger and bigger -- and they have to train him to stay hidden from other people. The book ends with a newspaper clipping dated 1933 referring to the sighting of a great monster in Loch Ness.

Fairly short -- with b&w illustrations.
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½ (68 ratings; 3.8)
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