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The Watertower

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4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  244 ratings  ·  47 reviews
Nobody in Preston could remember when the watertower was built, or who had built it, but there it stood on Shooter's Hill -- its iron legs rusted, its egg-shaped tank warped and leaking -- casting a long dark shadow across the valley, across Preston itself.
Paperback, 32 pages
Published September 1st 1999 by Crocodile Books (first published 1994)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 458)
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Brittani Troutman
This book draws you in right from the beginning with the cover. The cover is eerie and also has some foreshadowing to what is to come. This is a great mystery book for children and I really believe that older children will love it.

In the book two young boys named Bubba and Scott decide to go swimming in the water tower on Shooters Hill. The water tower is eerie and the pictures show green water and creepy images. These pictures give you the feeling that something bad may happen to the boys. Aft
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Andy M
The ‘Watertower’ is essentially a graphic novel or visual text, making use of both words and art to impart the story. The books itself centres around two boys who decide to explore an old water tower, which towers over the small mid American town of Preston. The Water tower dominates the town, standing high upon Shooter’s hill.
Two Boys, Spike and Bubba decide to investigate the tower during an especially hot summer’s day, hoping to enjoy the perceived coolness of the water within. The power of t
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Helen Morrison
This is actually one of the most freightening things I have ever read. I was 11 at the time and I experienced sleepless night after night after reading it. This probably should be embarrassing to admit but honestly I dont care. TWAS AMAZING
Meltha
Well, that was creepy as sin...

The book is cleverly designed, forcing the reader to rotate it and simulating the round shape of the watertower itself. The result is left vague purposely. We have no idea what the watertower is (though its semblance to a b-movie UFO stands out), or what it was that Bubba saw, or what is different about everyone in town besides the obvious fact they now all look like psychopathic, murderous puppets. I'm sure there are kids (older ones) who will find this a fun, sca
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Emkoshka
Back in junior school, our librarian used to read to us from books short-listed for the Children's Book Council of Australia awards each year and then we would have our own ballot to choose our favourite. One year this was one of the books shortlisted. It's stayed with me ever since because of the sheer creepiness of the tale – Gary Crew is well known for his dark stories – and the illustrations. Reading it again now I was pleased to find that it hits exactly the same spot as it did all those ye ...more
Jessica Maynard
This is a great mystery book for children. I watched the book trailer for this before I read it and I was excited to see what happened in the book. It starts out with Spike and Bubba going to the old watertower to take a swim. Bubba knew he wasn't supposed to be there but he went anyway. When they get there Spike hops in and Bubba is behind him. This is when the book became suspenseful and I started thinking about what was actually happening. Spike was in the water for some time before he would ...more
Brad
This book drew me in by the eery cover. I was also anxious to see how anyone could make a water tower interesting. The story is set in the small town of Preston, with the Water Tower sitting atop Shooter’s Hill. The two main characters, Spike Trotter and Bubba D’Angelo got together one day and headed to the water tower to swim. The illustrations did a great job of continuing to depict the eery feel that the author wanted his readers to feel; one picture would show the outside bright and cheery w ...more
Joshua Cummins
One day, Bubba and Spike decide to climb to the top of an old water tower and go for a swim. They know they are not supposed to be there and that adds to the suspense. Once knee deep in the water, Bubba really gets paranoid and starts calling for Spike, without answer, leaving us to wonder if something terrible has happened. Bubba climbs out of the tank only to realize his pants have blown away. Once Spike comes up he agrees to run to Bubba's house, sneak in his window, and bring back another pa ...more
Erin Walker
The Watertower by: Gary Crew (1994) -International/ Picture Book

The Watertower is a story about two friends Bubba and Scott who travel to the towns water tower on a hot summer day. They want to cool down but Bubba gets a bad feeling. When he comes out of the water his shorts are gone so Spike runs to get him some. While he's gone Bubba goes into the water. When he emerges there is a visable change in his appearance.

Themes: Friendship, Adventure, Trust, Taking Risks and Mystery

Teaching Options: I
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Krista
This mysterious picture book for older readers was one that really grabbed my attention. Watertower written by Gary Crew is a very fascinating 32 page book that I strongly recommend to older children! This book starts out with two main characters, Bubba and Spike. They are venturing over to the old watertower in town in hopes to take a little swim. Knowing they arent supposed to be there only adds to the adrenaline the two boys are already feeling. Bubba especially knows he isn't supposed to be ...more
Jessica
WHAT THE HELL?! Apparently this is an excellent book for children to read and study, according to SOMEONE's primary ed student boyfriend, it is a great book to talk about and discuss, and now I am sure of the fact that all adults really do is plant the seeds of fear and terror in the minds of small children. Fuck me. This is brilliant. Go read. Don't care what age you are, go and read it.
Gaby
Why have I not read this book before? I look forward to sharing this with the grade six students and starting a discussion about what happens in the story.. It actually took me two reads and a flick through the illustrations to understand what was happening in the book. The illustrations are an important part of the story. I really enjoyed this one!
Stacy Slater
Looming over a small outback town somewhere in Australia is a water tower. One day, Bubba and Spike take a dip in its murky waters. Bubba's pants blow away and Spike runs to his house to bring him another pair. But something happens to Bubba while his friend is away...something that leaves him with the same staring eyes as the adults in the town and a replica of the symbol on the side of the water tower etched into his hand.

The plot is spare and simple, yet this is a surprisingly complicated boo
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Leah
This was a really interesting book. Mainly because I was left thinking, "what the heck just happened?" The story is about Spike and Bubba and how they go to cool off in the very old water tower just up the hill from their town. The amazing pictures give off the vibe that this water tower is the creepiest place ever.

The ending is not at all what I thought it would be and therefore lends itself to many different response activities. For example, the students reactions alone to just the ending wou
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Meredith Trotter
Publication: 1994

Grade/Age: Ages 7 and up

Annotation: The water tower in a small town in Australia seems to always have been there. Two boys going swimming in it, and one comes out a very different sort of person.

Themes: Friendship, trust, adventure, taking risks and mystery

Ways to use the book:

Use it as a librarian in a lesson about visual literacy.

Use in a lesson about character development, given the significant change in Bubba from the beginning to the end of the story.

Symbolism - What does t
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Catherine
What a great book. Some of Gary Crew's creepy stories work better than others. This one definitely works for me. I read through it then re-read straight away to thoroughly absorb the illustrations -- didn't want to miss a thing. Like the pilot episode of a new sci-fi, this book will have you looking for clues and wondering hours later ... what will happen, what did happen?

UPDATE -- Read this to the Grade 5/6's last week and I've never seen a book cause so much discussion and interest among kids.
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Andrew Critchell
I used this book for a creative writing session with 10 and 11 year old reluctant writers. The response was phenomenal and they were so engaged it was fantastic to see.
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
I liked the creepiness of this little tale, and the way you have to hold the book sideways at times, changing angles. The watertower seems like a harmless place to escape the scorching heat, if you're careful. Spike climbs right into the tank, but something makes Bubba a little nervous, a bit hesitant. The pictures tell a great deal of the story here (hint--watch the eyes!). The ending--well, it's kind of up to the reader to decide, I think. The Children's Book Council of Australia named this th ...more
Humphrey
This book is very nice for my children.
Caitlan
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Amy
My students always tell me they're too old for picture books (11yrs old). So I was determined to prove you are never too old for a picture book!
The Watertower was the perfect book to do this. Its mysterious and slightly creepy. The suspense pulled the students in and their predictions were endless! They even wanted to make movie trailers and write sequels. They cannot wait to read Beneath the Surface.
Thank you Gary Crew!
Sarah
Despite the mundane text, the disorientation of the pages and seemingly innocuous illustrations combine to leave the reader with a feeling of foreboding. On the first reading, certain details stand out as out of place in this boy's tale; it isn't until the end that those feelings of displacement make sense, requiring a more careful second reading. Subtle and surreal, a Twilight Zone for the tween set.
Peter
Careful - this is not for younger kids. I made the mistake of reading this to my 4 year old. Making a lot of editorial changes as the story got creepier and creepier. It tried my best to make it less scary, but probably just managed to get him confused. There should be a warning on books like this to let parents know that it's not for little kids.
Chloe Jackson
The Watertower is a great book for ELL students because it gives them a chance to work on prediction. The book is about two boys who want to go swimming in the town's water tower. The book leaves the reader in suspense guessing what happens at the end of the story. For ELL, students they can write about their predictions based on their prior knowledge.
Jack
Aug 19, 2013 Jack is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-watertower, bg
After a scary experience Bubba realises that old unused water towers are dangerous places to play in. Sophisticated picture book. Suggested level: junior, primary, intermediate.Gary Crew
Miki Saiki
I read this book in my creative writing class which is taught by Gray Crew, the author of this book.
The image and text are beautifully collaborated to establish a great theme and effective plots.
This is one of the great picture books I have read so far.
Pam
Gary Crew's illustrations are haunting and absorbing, pulling in reluctant readers, as if they too had been abducted by the same mesmerizing force taking over the town in the story.
Sandra Vicars
An intersting story about Spike, Bubba and the Watertower.Definately not for the younger students, but for older kids, it can be the beginning for discussions about what really happened.
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Dr Gary Crew, author of novels, short stories and picture books for older children and young adults began his writing career in 1985, when he was a high school teacher. His books are challenging and intriguing, often based on non-fiction. As well as writing fiction, Gary is a Associate Professor in Creative Writing, Children's and Adult Literature, at the University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensla ...more
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