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Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins: An Illuminating History of Mr. Waterhouse Hawkins, Artist and Lecturer

Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins: An Illuminating History of Mr. Waterhouse Hawkins, Artist and Lecturer

by Barbara Kerley, Brian Selznick (Illustrator)

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Can you fathom a time when almost no one in the world knew what a dinosaur looked like? That was true in the mid-nineteenth century, until Victorian artist Waterhouse Hawkins built the first life-size models of dinosaurs, first in his native England and later in New York City, and dazzled the world with his awe-inspiring creations.
With impeccable


Can you fathom a time when almost no one in the world knew what a dinosaur looked like? That was true in the mid-nineteenth century, until Victorian artist Waterhouse Hawkins built the first life-size models of dinosaurs, first in his native England and later in New York City, and dazzled the world with his awe-inspiring creations.
With impeccable attention to detail, Barbara Kerley unearths a story of consuming passion, triumph, loss, and courage--and ultimately, of an extraordinary legacy that lives on today. Caldecott Medalist Brian Selznick celebrates this complex and fascinating individual through luminous, soul-stirring paintings that form a visual masterpiece.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Distinctions and Praise for The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins: (partial listing)

Caldecott Honor Book
ALA Notable Children’s Book NAPPA Gold Award Winner
Orbis Pictus Honor Book for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children
Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year, 2001
CBC/NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People
CBC/NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Books for Children
New York Public Library - 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing

• "One look at this amazing-but-true picture book introducing the little-known artist Hawkins and his dreams of dinosaurs, and kids may well forget about Jurassic Park." -- Publishers Weekly, starred review

• "Stunning." -- Kirkus Reviews, starred review

• "Appealing on many levels, this will be a favorite dinosaur book for years to come." -- Booklist, starred review

bn.com review
The Barnes & Noble Review
A masterful blend of artistic skill, scientific prowess, and impassioned theatrics lay at the core of Waterhouse Hawkins. A man of pure determination, he created the first life-size models of dinosaurs! This brilliant book is a fantastic nod to the genius of one man, and a glimpse into the beginning of an important era.

As a boy in England, Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins always wanted to be an artist. His passion led him to animals, and soon he was drawing and painting them with fervor. This eventually led to his true calling -- creating models of dinosaurs as they actually must have looked when they roamed the earth! With the help of scientist Richard Owen, he checked the fossil remains of dinosaurs against living animals and constructed a gigantic model. Among the first to witness his creation were Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, who reacted with pure amazement.

In order to impress England's leading scientists with his work, Waterhouse Hawkins staged a lavish New Year's Eve dinner party and hosted the gala inside the body of his model! He also wanted the public to learn about the dinosaurs and their history, so he built smaller models, illustrated books, and lectured on the subject. His fame spread to the United States, and he was invited to New York, where he began to create model dinosaurs for a proposed Paleozoic Museum in Central Park. However, a corrupt politician put an end to the project, and vandals later broke into Waterhouse Hawkins's workshop and destroyed his models. Though distraught, he moved on to Princeton, where he built skeletons and created paintings about life on earth in the age of the dinosaurs. Eventually, Waterhouse Hawkins returned to England and continued his work, some of which can still be seen in Crystal Palace Park.

Writer Barbara Kerley and illustrator Brian Selznick have weaved a spirited account of this largely forgotten man. Plenty of textual detail, research, and a good dose of wonderment make Kerley's narrative a delightful experience. And the awesome illustrations, which combine Waterhouse Hawkins's own grandeur with Selznick's talent for the bold and the beautiful, made the pages come to life. The fusion of scientific allure and sensational images is a stroke of brilliance. This phenomenal book stands as true testament to the devotion and power of an individual -- it would have made Waterhouse Hawkins proud. (Amy Barkat)

Publishers Weekly
One look at this amazing-but-true picture book introducing the little-known artist Hawkins and his dreams of dinosaurs, and kids may well forget about Jurassic Park. As a child growing up in 19th-century London, Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins discovered his passion: drawing and sculpting animal figures, especially prehistoric dinosaurs. His artistic talent and his goalAto build life-size models of dinosaurs envisioned from scientific fossilsAled him to work with noted anatomist Richard Owen and complete a special commission from Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, an installation of dinosaur statues, much of which still stands in contemporary Sydenham, England. During the project, Hawkins courted the scientific community by hosting a lavish New Year's Eve dinner party inside his life-size model of an iguanodon (the bill of fare is reproduced on the final page). Selznick (The Houdini Box, see p. 94) builds to the dramatic moment by showing readers a peek at giant reptilian toes through a parted curtain. Kerley (Songs of Papa's Island) leads readers into further exploration of Hawkins by presenting copious but never dull details of the stages of his life and works, including efforts in the U.S., thwarted by Boss Tweed. Throughout, she suffuses her text with a contagious sense of wonder and amazement. Selznick enthusiastically joins the excitement with his intricate compositions, capturing Hawkins's devotion to his art and depicting the dapper man with wild white hair as a spirited visionary and showman. The elegant design on tall pages gives the dinosaur models their due from various perspectives, and scenery of the period additionally grounds the work in historic context. Extensive author andillustrator notes denote the extensive (and fun) research both undertook for this extraordinary volume. Ages 6-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
In the mid-nineteenth century, Waterhouse Hawkins, with the help of a scientist, built full-size models of dinosaurs at a time when no one knew more about what they looked like than their bones. Hawkins was also a master showman who inspired awe and excitement with his lectures and his models in the Crystal Palace in London. But in America, his great plans for a Paleozoic Museum in Central Park ended in political turmoil. When vandals destroyed and buried his reconstructions, he was dispirited but continued to build, lecture and promote dinosaurs until his death. Selznick's melodramatically colored illustrations, mostly double-page spreads with many period details, convey the opulence of Victorian England, including a visit from the queen. Large pages, elegantly designed with thin colored borders on creamy paper, add to the importance. The models are presented as Hawkins conceived them, as demonstrated by notes about the history and extensive research done by both author and illustrator. 2001, Scholastic Press, $16.95. Ages 6 to 12. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Gr 2-5-A picture-book presentation about the efforts of Hawkins to erect the first life-sized models of dinosaurs on both sides of the Atlantic. A Victorian artist and sculptor, he was well respected in England, and his reputation insured his being invited to construct replicas of creatures no one had ever seen and to unveil them at the newly constructed Crystal Palace. Kerley's spirited text and Selznick's dramatic paintings bring Hawkins's efforts into clear focus, including his frustrating experience in New York City when Boss Tweed set vandals loose in his workshop. Both author and illustrator provide copious notes of biographical material delineating Hawkins's works, and Selznick's trips to Philadelphia to view a rare scrapbook that is the model for this book's design and to London to see the original Crystal Palace models. Painstakingly researched, written and illustrated with careful attention to detail, this book presents the fervor and spirit of a dedicated, little-known individual whose conceptions-however erroneous by today's discoveries-astounded the minds and stirred the imaginations of scientists then involved in the actual birth of paleontology. A distinguished book in every way.-Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NY Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
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'sbeginning 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)

Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
9.00(w) x 12.00(h) x (d)
AD550L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Barbara Kerley's award-winning biographies—including What to Do About Alice? and The Extraordinary Mark Twain (According to Susy), both illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham, and The Dinosaurs of WaterhouseHawkins and Walt Whitman: Words for America, both illustrated by Brian Selznick—are consistently praised for their lively prose, meticulous research, and artistic presentation style. Kerley lives in Portland, Oregon. You can visit her online at www.barbarakerley.com.

In addition to The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Brian Selznick is the illustrator of the Caldecott Honor winner, The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins, and The New York Times Best Illustrated Walt Whitman: Words for America, both by Barbara Kerley, as well as the Sibert Honor Winner When Marian Sang, by Pam Muñoz Ryan, and numerous other celebrated picture books and novels. Brian has also worked as a set designer and a puppeteer. When he isn’t traveling to promote his work all over the world, he lives in San Diego, California, and Brooklyn, New York.

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