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The Water Horse by Dick King-Smith
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The Water Horse

by Dick King-Smith

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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 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. ( )
  katie | Apr 7, 2013 |
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. ( )
  Inky_Fingers | Nov 24, 2012 |
A delightful mythical book about a sea egg that is washed ashore and found by a young Scottish child, Kirstie. The egg hatches into a sea serpent and the fun and games begin. ( )
  rata | Sep 8, 2011 |
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 !!! ( )
  XjessicaflorenceX | Aug 31, 2010 |
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 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.
  PatrickNavas | Jul 24, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375842314, Paperback)

Now in paperback! From the award-winning author of Babe: The Gallant Pig comes the story of how the Loch Ness monster finds his home, thanks to the human family that raises him.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:27:02 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

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.

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