How To Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell, paperback novel, 227 pages, first published by Hodder Children’s Books in 2003, this edition published in 2010.
Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third is a boy, but not just any boy, he is the son of the Viking Chief, Stoick the Vast. He is expected to achieve great things and become a Viking Hero. Unfortunately, Hiccup doesn’t seem much cut out for life as a hero; he is scrawny, and already known as Hiccup the Useless by most of the other boys of his tribe. In order to become a full member of the Hairy Hooligans, the boys must pass the initiation tests, including capturing and training a wild dragon.
I’m quite fond of stories featuring dragons; I enjoyed the movie of “How To Train Your Dragon” when I saw it with my kids. I promised myself I would read the books when I had a chance. I was expecting the first book in the series to be similar to the movie, so I was surprised to find the book vastly different. Some of the names are the same, but the bulk of the story was not translated. This was by no means a disappointment though, I thought the book was great. My 9 year old was also very taken with the book, and has asked to read more of the series.
How to Train Your Dragon is funny and action filled, if just a tad silly! It has serious entertainment value, I didn’t want to put it down. It made me laugh and sigh, and glare when Snotlout was being mean to Hiccup. He is quite a bully!
Vikings using small dragons to fish for them is ingenious. Having a dragon companion would definitely have its advantages, though I’d be too afraid to crawl into a dark cave full of sleeping dragons to catch one! Most of the dragons weren’t particularly nice, especially Snotlout’s dragon, nor are they overly loyal. The humongous seadragons were the most arrogant of all. Toothless reminds me of my youngest child: stubborn, disobedient, whiny, always complaining, never stops eating! He is there when hiccup needs him most though. I really like Hiccup and Fishlegs; they aren’t your typical blood-thirsty vikings, but they are trying.
Even the names in this story are humorous. The Hairy Hooligans and the Meatheads are funny names for tribes, but what about names like Fishlegs, Hiccup or Snotface Snotlout? And a dragon called Horrorcow; I love it!
How to Train Your Dragon is suitable for primary school children and up. It is the first in a series featuring Hiccup and Toothless; I want to read all of them and so do my kids. I have already started the second book in the series, How to Be a Pirate.