March 16, 2016

He made dinosaurs

The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins
by Barbara Kerley
paintings by Brian Selznick

Waterhouse Hawkins didn't know what dinosaurs looked like, but that didn't stop him from creating his humungous sculptures. Back in 1853, paleontology was in its infancy and complete dinosaur skeletons had yet to be uncovered. With the assistance of scientist Richard Owen, Hawkins tried to predict what a dinosaur looked like by comparing fossil bones and teeth to that of living animals. He revealed his finished iguanodon sculpture in dramatic fashion - by holding a dinner inside it!

Hawkins went on to build more dinosaurs for display at London's Crystal Palace. He was then commissioned to build American dinosaurs for New York's Central Park. But political corruption destroyed his dream and nearly broke his spirit. Yet he was determined to carry on, finding work at Princeton University and the Smithsonian.

Hawkins' extraordinary achievements are brought vividly to life in Barbara Kerley's oversized picture book. Her dramatic words, paired with Selznick's wondrous paintings, capture all the excitement and accomplishment of the time. If not for Waterhouse Hawkins, we would not have the dinosaur exhibits we have today.

HIghly recommended.

To view Hawkins' dinosaur sculptures, go to

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