A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Non-Scottish readers will learn what a loch is, and will become familiar with other English words that are more common to Scottish speakers, such as "beastie," "wee," and "dram." An appendix to the story explains the legend of the Loch Ness Monster.
Friendship comes in surprising forms.
Positive Role Models
Grumble and the children's father are compassionate problem solvers, and Kirstie and Angus learn from their example.
Violence & Scariness
The Water Horse eats a swan. The bird simply disappears underwater, and a few feathers float back to the surface.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The grandfather offers the postman a "wee dram" to keep warm.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Water Horse is a charming short novel from Dick King-Smith, author of Babe: The Gallant Pig. In the story, set in the 1930s, a baby sea monster hatches from an egg discovered by a young girl named Kirstie. Kirstie and her family nurture the "beastie," which they name Crusoe, by feeding it canned fish from their own larder. The family's efforts to nurture and protect the creature become more complicated as Crusoe grows larger. There's one scene in which it is clear that Crusoe has eaten a live swan, but no graphic violence is included. This is an entertaining, fantastical story with two sweet children at the center and a scenic Scottish backdrop. In 2007, the story was adapted for a film that expands the plot, turning it into a World War II drama/adventure. The movie is good, but it's suspenseful with threats of danger that don't exist in the book.
Is It Any Good?
This short novel from Dick King-Smith holds many of the same endearing qualities as the writer's well-known work about Babe the pig. It features a special bond between human and animal, and although there is a bit of suspense at times, there's much more charm than excitement to the tale. The Water Horse also features a quiet sense of humor similar to the tone of Babe: The Gallant Pig. Young readers will be amused by Angus' constant hunger and the family's close call with a police officer. This is an entertaining story that's simple to read and easy to enjoy.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.