THE DINOSAURS OF WATERHOUSE HAWKINS by Barbara Kerley
Kirkus Star

THE DINOSAURS OF WATERHOUSE HAWKINS

by , illustrated by
Age Range: 5 - 10

KIRKUS REVIEW

Who could resist? Staring straight out from the handsome album-like cover is a slight man with a shock of white hair and an intense, intelligent gaze. Over his shoulder looms the enormous mouth of a dinosaur. This is perfectly designed to pique reader’s curiosity with one of the strangest true stories dinosaur lovers will ever read. The man is Waterhouse Hawkins, who, in Victorian England, devoted his life to making ordinary people aware of dinosaurs at a time when most had never heard of them and could not imagine what they looked like. Hawkins, an established author/illustrator of books on animal anatomy, estimated the scale of the dinosaurs from their bones, made clay models, erected iron skeletons with brick foundations and covered them over with cement casts to create dramatic public displays. Such was Hawkins’s devotion to his work that he engaged the Queen’s patronage, catered to the fathers of paleontology at a dinner party inside an iguanodon model, and was invited to bring his dinosaur models to Central Park. It was in New York that Hawkins’s story turned grimly sad. Antagonizing Boss Tweed with some ill-chosen words, Hawkins thereafter found his dinosaurs smashed and buried beneath Central Park, where they remain today. The fascinating story, well documented in authoritative, readable author and illustrator notes, is supported by creative decisions in illustration, bookmaking, and design. Hawkins was a showman, and Selznick presents his story pictorially as high melodrama, twice placing the hero front stage, before a curtain revealing a glimpse of the amazing dinosaurs. Turns of the page open onto electrifying, wordless, double-page spreads. A boy who appears at the book’s beginning and end (where he sits on a park bench in Central Park while fragments of the lost dinosaurs lie among the tree roots below) affects a touching circularity. Stunning. (Nonfiction. 5-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-439-11494-2
Page count: 48pp
Publisher: Scholastic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 2001




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