Tuesday, June 1, 2010

How to Train Your Dragon - Cressida Cowell

Summary: Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III was a truly extraordinary Viking Hero, Warrior chieftain, awesome sword-fighter, and ameteur naturalist. He was known throughout Vikingdom as "the Dragon Whisperer," on accoutn of his power over the terrifying beasts.

But it wasn't always like that...
(Summary from book - Image from hatchettebookgroup.com)

My Review: A few weeks ago I took my girls to see the movie How to Train Your Dragon where, apart from being thoroughly entertained, we learned there was a book by the same name, ostensibly written by Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third. It seemed like something the girls would enjoy and so I checked it out of our local library and began reading it to them a few days ago.

My children really enjoyed this book, even though I felt like sometimes the language was over their 4 and 6-year-old heads. It helped that they had seen the movie so they understood the basic concept of Vikings, dragons, etc. While there are a few of the same characters as the movie version, a dragon named Toothless, and an even larger dragon that spells trouble for the Vikings, that’s about as far as the similarities go. In the book, the Vikings steal their dragons when they are small and train them to follow their commands and catch fish for them, while in the movie the Vikings take a more defensive stance. Throughout the book, Cowell inserts several extra pages of information about Viking Dragons, Learning to Speak Dragonese, etc., that were fun to read with the kids.

There was quite bit of name-calling in this book--Vikings are a rough crowd, you know—but it was of the “winkle-hearted, seaweed-brained, limpet eating” variety and was more absurd than offensive. Cowell’s illustrations were sloppily drawn, and even though I understand they were supposed to be, I still wanted them more detail. One of my favorite parts to read to my kids was the book within this book –an earlier edition of How To Train Your Dragon by Professor Yob Yobbish. It was terribly clever and not nearly long enough. Overall, this story was a quick, adventurous read about a young, less-than-confident, less-than-popular boy who overcomes his fears and saves his people. While I had my doubts at times, it ended with a good moral about true courage and selflessness.

As a bonus, I picked up a new term for my own little band of heathens– the hairy hooligans. Now when my girls are being terrors, that’s what I’m going to call them.

My Rating: 3.5 Stars (It had a little bit more “stupid” and “shut up” than I like in my children’s books and you are treated to a vague illustration of a Viking being flicked, stark naked, away from an irate dragon. It’s a long story as to how he got stark naked. Just know that you see some hairy Viking tush. My girls giggled. )

Sum it up: Having seen one and read the other, I actually think I’m going to side with the movie version this time – but that could be the HD talking. I still think this was still worth a read and might consider reading the rest of the series to the girls if they express an interest.


Anne Bennion said...

I read this aloud to my 6 year old. He giggled and laughed the whole way through, and only caught on occasionally when I edited the stupids and shut ups.

Lynette said...

Thanks for the review! I had no idea this was a book now! (I know, I'm behind the times) I'm sure my 9-year-old daughter would love it. :)


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