The Water Horse Book Poster Image

The Water Horse



Another sweet animal tale from Babe author.

What parents need to know

Violence & scariness

The Water Horse eats a swan and other birds.

Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that aside from the Water Horse eating a swan, there is little to be concerned about here.

What's the story?

When Kirstie finds what appears to be an unusually large fish egg on the beach below her house, she takes it home and pops it in the bathtub. When a strange creature emerges from it, she and Angus feed it sardines. Their grandfather, Grumble, recognizes it as a mythical Water Horse, and they name it Crusoe.

To get it out of the tub, they put it in a goldfish pond. Soon, though, it grows too large, and the pond is in danger of freezing, so they move it to a nearby lochan. But as he continues to grow at an alarming rate they face another problem -- how to keep the friendly beast, who associates humans with food and companionship, hidden. And where can they take him next?

Is it any good?


Dick King-Smith's specialty is gentle, fairly easy-to-read animal stories, and this one, though it's about a mythical creature, follows his tried-and-true formula. Though it lacks most of the elements most authors seem to think are necessary -- a villain, suspense, breathtaking drama, potty humor, nasty or heroic kids, ineffectual adults -- it's as pleasurable and satisfying in its calm, reassuring way as a cold evening in front of a warm fire.

There's something so reassuring about a writer who can make a story this delightful and fun without all the bells and whistles. Just a little light humor, likable characters, an engrossing setup, a little authorial magic, and presto -- a satisfying read.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the Loch Ness Monster. Do you think it could be real? Why or why not? How might a story like this have gotten started? Your children might be interested in doing a little research, and seeing supposed photos of the monster.

Book details

Author:Dick King-Smith
Illustrator:David Parkins
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Yearling Books
Publication date:January 1, 1998
Number of pages:118
Publisher's recommended age(s):8 - 12

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 12 years old May 30, 2011

A heartwarming story about friendship and caring for others!

I loved this book! It was a charming read! It had positive messages about friendship and caring for others! It is not violent. Unless you consider the water horse wrecking a boat and eating some birds very violent. Although, in one part of the book, a heron pecks thw water horse leaving a little bit of blood on its skin. One character says son of a sea cook to replace the b word. One character also offers a wee drum. Besides that, there is nothing very wrong with this book. Kids ages 8 and up should read it.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Parent of a 3 and 6 year old Written byloisj June 22, 2009

Great book

Loved this book! Read it to my 5-year-old and he was engrossed. I especially like that there are no "bad guys" and no violence. It's just a story about keeping a special creature secret so it stays safe from people who won't understand. I also like it because the protagonist is a resourceful girl (about 8 or 9 years old) with a younger brother (5 or 6) who is there for comic relief. Unfortunately, the movie version switched the role of the siblings so that the boy is the lead and older and the girl is marginal. So read the book--it's better than the Hollywood version, which apparently is based on the idea that boys are so much more suitable main characters that they will change the book for no other reason!
Parent Written bybje July 11, 2015


What other families should know
Too much violence


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