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  • The Water Horse
  • Written by Dick King-Smith
    Illustrated by David Parkins
  • Format: Trade Paperback | ISBN: 9780375842313
  • Our Price: $5.99
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  • The Water Horse
  • Written by Dick King-Smith
    Illustrated by David Parkins
  • Format: Trade Paperback | ISBN: 9780375803529
  • Our Price: $5.99
  • Quantity:
See more online stores - The Water Horse

The Water Horse

Written by Dick King-SmithAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Dick King-Smith
Illustrated by David ParkinsAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by David Parkins

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ABOUT THE BOOK ABOUT THE BOOK
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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

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.

Excerpt

One look into the bathtub was enough to send her hurrying to get Angus. As usual, he awoke from the deepest of sleeps with his mind instantly tuned to his chief pleasure in life.

"I'm hungry," said Angus. "Is breakfast ready?"

"Ssssshh!" said Kirstie. "Don't talk so loud. We mustn't wake Mother or Grumble."

"Why not?"

"Because it's hatched. The thing. In the bathtub."

"Blow me down!" said Angus.

Angus enjoyed using what he thought to be terrible swear words, and his father, on his last shore leave, had taught him a careful selection of sailors' oaths.

They crept into the bathroom and stood side by side, gazing into the water.

"Look!" said Kirstie.

"Shiver my timbers!" said Angus.

The giant mermaid's purse lay on the bottom at the plug hole end like a sunken wreck. Wrecked it was, too, with a gaping hole in one side where something had emerged. At the other end of the bathtub swam that something.

When Kirstie was a grown woman with a family of her own, her children would ask her time and again to describe what it was she saw in the bathtub that early March morning when she was eight years of age.

"It was a little animal," she told them, ""such as neither I nor your Uncle Angus had ever seen before. Such as no one in the world had ever seen before, in fact. In size, it was about as big as a newborn kitten but quite a different shape. The first thing you noticed about it was its head, which was sticking out of the water on the end of quite a long neck. More than anything, it looked like a horse's head, with wide nostrils like a horse and even a suggestion of pricked ears. But its body was more like a turtle's. I don't mean it had a shell--it had kind of warty skin like a toad's, greeny grayish in color--but it had four flippers like a turtle has. And then it had a tail like a crocodile's. But just like you usually look at people's faces before you notice anything else about them, the thing that struck us was the look of its head. We didn't think about a crocodile or a toad or a turtle. We thought about a little horse."

Now, as Kirstie and Angus watched, the creature, which had been eyeing them in silence, dived with a plop, swam underwater with strong strokes of its little flippers, and surfaced again right in front of them. It looked up at them and chirruped.

"What does it want?" Kirstie said. The answer to this question was obvious to someone like Angus.

"Food, of course," he said. "It's hungry, like me."

"What shall we give it? What do you suppose it will eat? What do you suppose it is anyway? We don't even know what sort of animal it is."

"It's a monster," said Angus confidently. He had a number of picture books about monsters, and obviously this was one of them.

"But monsters are big," Kirstie said.

Angus sighed. "This isn't a monster monster," he said. "This is a baby one."

"A baby sea monster!" said Kirstie. "Well, then, it would eat fish, wouldn't it? We'll have to catch some fish for it."

A happy smile lit up Angus's round face. "We don't need to," he said. "There's some sardines in the pantry. I like sardines."

Opening the sardine can was difficult, but Kirstie managed to turn the key far enough to winkle one out, and they tiptoed upstairs again, carrying it on a saucer.

"Don't give it everything. It might not like it," said Angus hopefully, but when Kirstie pulled off a bit of sardine with her fingers and dropped it into the bathtub, the little animal snapped it up and gulped it down and chirruped loudly for more.

"It likes it," said Angus dolefully. He broke off another piece of fish, his hand moving automatically toward his mouth, but Kirstie said "Angus!" sharply, so he dropped it in the tub, contenting himself with licking the oil off his fingers. And, one after the other, they fed the creature the rest of the sardine. Then they went down to the pantry again to see if they could get another one out of the can."

With a great effort, for the key was very stiff to turn, Kirstie had at last got the can fully open when suddenly they heard footsteps on the stairs and Mother came into the kitchen.

"Kirstie!" she said. "Whatever are you up to? Who told you you could help yourself to sardines--and long before breakfast time, too?"

"It's for our sea monster," said Angus.

"Don't be so silly, Angus!" said Mother sharply. "Look at your fingers, all oily, you greedy little boy! And you, Kirstie, you're old enough to know better!"

"We haven't eaten any, Mother, honestly," said Kirstie. "And we have got a sea monster, truly we have."

"Now you listen to me, Kirstie," said Mother. "Whatever it is that you two have brought home--a lobster, a crab, whatever it is that you're wasting my expensive sardines on--you will take it straight back, d'you hear me?"

"Oh, no, Mother!" cried Kirstie. "Please not."

"First thing after breakfast it goes back in the sea," said Mother firmly. "Where is it anyway?"

"In the bathtub," said Angus.

"In the bathtub!" cried Mother. "Oh, no!"

"It's quite happy there," said Angus.

"Well, that's more than your grandfather will be by now. As I came down, I saw him going along the corridor with his towel and his shaving kit. He'll have a fit!"

"Specially if it's still hungry," said Angus.

But when the three of them reached the bathroom, the door was open and there was Grumble kneeling by the bathtub. With his bald head and his droopy mustache he looked like a walrus about to take a dip. He was staring silently at the little animal as it paddled about the water, now glistening with sardine oil. To their amazement they saw that he was smiling broadly. Grumble, smiling!

"It's that thing you found on the beach after the storm, isn't it Kirstie?"

"Yes, Grumble. It hatched in the night."

"I made her put salt in the water," said Angus.

"I doubt you need have bothered with that," said Grumble. "It's an air-breathing beastie, you see, like a seal. Fresh water or salt, I doubt it matters, so long as it has plenty of fish to eat."

"We've given it a sardine," said Kirstie.

Grumble got to his feet. "You've a clever couple of kids here," he said to Mother. "How I wish I could have found such a thing when I was their age. There were many stories then of this creature and I believed all of them, but I never thought I'd see one."

"You sound as though you know what this thing is," said Mother.

"I should," said Grumble. "Wasn't I born and brought up on the banks of Loch Morar? And wasn't there supposed to be one of these living in that very loch?"

"What is it, Grumble?" asked Kirstie.

"Before I tell you," said Grumble, "you must promise faithfully to tell no one outside the family. Not a word to any of your friends at school. Understand?"

"Oh, yes," said Kirstie. "Cross my heart." She crossed it. Angus crossed his stomach, perhaps by mistake, but possibly because it was to him the most important organ.

"Right," said Grumble. "Then I'll tell you. It's a monster."

"I told you," said Angus.

"Always there've been tales of sightings of such a beastie, sometimes at sea, more often in a loch," said Grumble. "Oh, when I was a boy, how I longed to see the kelpie."

"Is that what it's called?" said Kirstie.

"That's one name for it," said Grumble, "but the other is the one that I like. Most folks call it the Water Horse."


From the Hardcover edition.
Dick King-Smith|David Parkins

About Dick King-Smith

Dick King-Smith - The Water Horse
“[I] am a very happy man doing what is in effect my hobby for a living, i.e. writing stories for children.”—Dick King-Smith

Dick King-Smith grew up in Gloucestershire, England. He lives with his wife in a small 17th-century cottage, three and a quarter miles from the house in which he was born.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR


I was born in 1922 and was brought up in the countryside, surrounded by pet animals of one sort or another. I was first attracted to the girl I was later to marry through my admiration of her skill (in contrast to my own haphazard husbandry) as a breeder of parakeets. I was thirteen at the time, and she was twelve. It hasn’t worked out too badly, as we have been married for nearly sixty years, three children and ten grandchildren to the good.

I was educated at a preparatory school and then at Marlborough College, a boarding school for boys, where I was good at sports (but not very good) and showed reasonable intelligence (though not very great).

If I had an ambition, it was to be a farmer. But then along came the Second World War, and so I took the king’s shilling—that is to say, I enlisted as a soldier. I served as a platoon commander in the Grenadier Guards, beginning my active service at Salerno with the Allied invasion of Italy in September 1943 and ending it eleven months later when a German paratrooper threw a British hand grenade at me in the middle of an Italian forest and filled me full of holes.

My career in farming began in 1947, and though I think I was a decent stockman, my business acumen was extremely low. It was difficult to farm at a loss in those days, but I managed to lose money without fall every year from 1947 to 1967, when the bank manager called a halt.

Six months of selling aluminum-asbestos firefighting suits, boots, and helmets (I didn’t sell many) were followed by three and a half years as a time-and-motion man in a shoe factory (I never really understood the mathematics). Then I trained as a teacher and took a degree from Bristol University at the age of fifty-three, reading English and philosophy. I did well in philosophy even though I hadn’t the faintest idea what it was all about, and still haven’t.

Next came seven years as a teacher in a small village elementary school. I began with eight-year-olds, but it soon became plain that my always shaky grasp of the principles of arithmetic was not adequate for people of that advanced age, so I ended my teaching career with children of five and six.

By this time I had written my first four stories, and now—with time of my own—books began to spring up like mushrooms. In addition, I landed several little jobs as a presenter on children’s television, where I met a whole lot of delightful people and animals and much enjoyed performing in front of the camera.

I’m still turning out books hand over fist—now nearing a hundred in print in the United States, England, and Europe—mostly about animals: farmyard fantasy, I suppose you could call it, often about pigs, my special favorites. I enjoy writing for children so much, and meeting them, and knowing (because they tell me) that they get enjoyment from what I do.

I’m happy, and so are my wife and my children and my grandchildren and the bank manager. I’m a lucky man.


PRAISE


BABE
The Gallant Pig

—An ALA Notable Book
—A Boston Globe–Horn Book Honor Book
—A Horn Book Fanfare Honor Book
—An IRA/CBC Children’s Choice
—An NCTE Teachers’ Choice

“An animal fantasy which will inevitably be compared to Charlotte's Web. . . . Combines a robust pleasure in the smell and feel of rural surroundings with a humorous affection for all living creatures . . . a splendid book.”—Starred, The Horn Book Magazine


FUNNY FRANK

“Thoroughly engaging . . . chipper dialogue, generous helpings of humor and a lickety-split plot add up to an amusing chapter book.”—Publishers Weekly

“Amusing . . . a fine choice for early chapter-book readers.”—School Library Journal

About David Parkins

David Parkins - The Water Horse
Tundra’s David Parkins is the award-winning illustrator of over fifty children’s books. He began his career at Dyfed College of Art in Wales, studying wildlife illustration. He then went to Lincoln College of Art for three years, and has been a freelance illustrator since his graduation in 1979. He spent several years at the beginning of his career producing illustrations for educational publishers, and has earned most of his keep drawing for the British cartoon, The Beano. David Parkins lives in England with his wife and nine-year-old daughter.
Praise

Praise

"When eight-year-old Kirstie finds a mysterious egg on the beach after a big storm, no one in the family expects it to hatch. But the next day, after a night in the bathtub, a mysterious little creature is born: part turtle, part horse, part frog, with an alligator tail. Only Kirstie's grandpa knows its true identity: a Water Horse, the sea monster of Scottish legend. The creature becomes a family pet, tamable and lovable, though with a huge appetite. As he grows and grows, the family must decide where to place him, somewhere away from those who would exploit him or, worse, accidentally become his dinner; perhaps Loch Ness would be safest. This well-written, fast-paced fantasy combines a popular subject with appealing, distinctive characters, humor, and drama. King-Smith's imaginative spin on an old myth makes the outrageous possible."--Booklist

"It's an ideal family read-aloud." --The Horn Book Magazine

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