The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins (Caldecott Honor Book)

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9780439114943: The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins (Caldecott Honor Book)

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.

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"Can you fathom a time when almost no one in the world knew what a dinosaur looked like?" Barbara Kerley and Brian Selznick can--and it was a time when people used words like "fathom" a lot, about 150 years ago. This author-illustrator team became experts on the subject, delving deeply into the life of Victorian artist Waterhouse Hawkins, the first person to ever summon up, sketch, mold, and fabricate these ancient giants into full-size models.

The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins, presented in breathlessly earnest chapbook style ("A True Dinosaur Story in Three Ages"), follows the life of Hawkins from his early fossil studies to the first iguanodon that he extrapolates into existence for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The story then follows his subsequent victories and defeats at home and abroad: a triumphantly unorthodox New Year's Eve dinner party with the fathers of paleontology; the unveiling of Dinosaur Island; Boss Tweed's scuttling of a planned Paleozoic Museum in Central Park, and the destruction of years of Hawkins's work in the process.

And the story is all true, although this veracity does make the pacing a bit clunky in spots. Then again, Kerley and Selznick have researched their hero with meticulous care (check out the copious endnotes), so perhaps only Hawkins himself can be blamed for leading a life that didn't always progress in perfect dramatic form. Overshadowing the narrative, though, are Selznick's stately, ghostly illustrations--of towering megalosaurs and Hawkins shuffling about with cane and top hat--which more than make up the difference. (Ages 9 to 12) --Paul Hughes

From the Author:

Barbara Kerley has been researching the life of Waterhouse Hawkins for the past five years. "I have always been fascinated by creative people who stretch the boundaries of what's been done before," she says. "Waterhouse did this in a monumental way." Ms. Kerley lives in California

Brian Selznick is the illustrator of Pam Munoz Ryan's Amelia and Eleanor Go for a Ride, an ALA Notable Book and a Book Sense Honor Book; and Riding Freedom, winner of the California Young Reader Medal and the Willa Literary Award. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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Book Description Hardcover. Book Condition: New. 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. Bookseller Inventory # 9384615

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