Bedtime Read-Aloud Recommendation: The Water Horse

Bedtime Read-Aloud Recommendation: The Water Horse

Alejandra Valera
Dec 17, 2008

It was Kristie who found it. It was lying just above the high-tide mark, a squarish package-shaped object, the color of seaweed with a long tendril sticking out from each of its four corners.


It was exactly the shape, in face, of the mermaids' purses, the little horny egg capsules of the dogfish, that were commonly washed up on the beach. But this one was the size of a large cookie tin!


One morning young Kristie finds a mysterious egg on the beach. It's too big to be a fish egg -- what could it be? She takes it home and hides it in her bathtub. The next morning, she and her brother Angus find a tiny little creature with the body reminiscent of a turtle and a head similar to a horse happily swimming around their tub. And so begins the story of "The Water Horse."

Now that we've ventured beyond picture books, our search continues for entertaining, more complex bedtime stories that an almost 5-year-old can enjoy. Our son's first non-picture nighttime read was "The Water Horse" by Dick King-Smith.

The story is an entertaining read with a simple plot that most 5-9 year olds will enjoy. "The Water Horse" gives readers a fun explanation of how the Loch Ness Monster came to be. Even though the book centers on the Loch Ness Monster, there is nothing frightening about it. The book tells of how Kristie, her brother Angus and the rest of her family find the egg, see it hatch, move it from their bathtub to their pond, from their pond to a small loch and from there, use a cattle truck to transport it to an even bigger loch. That's pretty much it, but there is so much detail and vivid language, your children will certainly be intrigued.

Just under 120 pages, "The Water Horse" will be part of your bedtime story ritual for a week or so. While our son first protested that there were no pictures in the book, after the first night of reading he couldn't wait to hear the rest.

We've seen that a movie based on "The Water Horse" was recently made, but sadly we weren't impressed with the Hollywood treatment of the story. In watching the trailer alone, we noticed that the main character is now Angus rather than Kristie (He finds the egg, while Kristie merely screams and recoils in fright upon seeing the little reptile. Nice message, Hollywood. We guess girls can't be strong egg-discovering explorers.) There's a token comedy scene which involves the Water Horse chasing the family dog (there was no dog in the book) and there are a slew of extra characters which were not in the book. Too bad.

We highly recommend "The Water Horse" if you're looking for a lovely new story to share at bedtime. Skip the movie, and order the book.

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