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Cressida Cowell – How to Train Your Dragon

May 18, 2011

62. How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell (2003)

Read By: Gerard Doyle, who apparently is the go-to guy for mid-grade fantasy Viking novels.
Length: 4h 23m (214 pages)

Genre: Mid-grade Historical Fantasy

Started: 02 May 2011
Finished: 05 May 2011

Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? I loved the movie and wanted to read the source material.

It’s hard to be tough
when you’re named “Hiccup”, but brains
are more use than brawn.

Summary: Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III may be the son of the great Viking chieftain Stoick the Vast, but he’s not exactly your typical hero. He’s short, scrawny, and on the raid on the dragon cave that marks the start of the Viking initiation ceremony, the dragon that Hiccup brings back is the tiniest, least-scary dragon that anyone’s ever seen… and it doesn’t even have any teeth! But when the Vikings of Berk are faced with an enormous, ancient sea-dragon that has taken up residence on the beach, their normal heroing tactics aren’t working, and Hiccup and Toothless might just prove themselves useful yet.

Review: I’ll be honest: I read this book because I really liked the movie. So I was pretty surprised to discover that really the only similarities between them were a) the names, b) Hiccup’s un-Viking-like nature, and c) the really big dragon at the end. And I was really, really surprised when I realized that in the book, the dragons are a) dog-sized or smaller, b) essentially working animals, not pests, and c) capable of speech.

That last points was one of my main sticking points; Toothless is not only capable of speech, but he rarely shuts up, and oh my goodness is he the worst whiney, bratty toddler I can imagine. Movie Toothless is a lot more personable, for all that he’s essentially a giant cat.

The story itself is cute if rather predictable, and while the book has a fair amount of juvenile humor aimed at its target audience of mid-grade boys, there are a fair number of funny moments that work for older readers as well. Overall, it was a quick and entertaining read, if not anything I’m particularly raving about. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: As mid-grade fantasy goes, it’s well-written and enjoyable for older readers as well… but I think I prefer the movie’s take on the basic storyline.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Other Reviews: Dog Ear Diary, My Favourite Books, Puss Reboots, Young Adult Literature Review
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: There were dragons when I was a boy.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. May 18, 2011 10:49 am

    I bet young boys would love this one! I love the name Hiccup for a dragon.

    • May 20, 2011 11:07 am

      Kathy – Yup, it’s very firmly geared towards 10-12 year-old boys, although I enjoyed it more than I usually do similarly mid-grade novels.

  2. May 18, 2011 6:58 pm

    I’ve heard all good things about the film of this but I shall give the book a miss. The film still sounds charming — my big sister couldn’t say enough good things about it.

    • May 20, 2011 11:24 am

      Jenny – Oh, definitely watch the movie! It’s adorable without being treacly, which can be pretty rare in kids’ movies.

  3. May 18, 2011 7:36 pm

    I’m so glad you reviewed this because I’ve been wondering if it was similar to the movie. I probably won’t read it, but will recommend it to my older son in case he’s interested.

    • May 20, 2011 11:25 am

      Alyce – I think your son will like it; it’s got the same basic spirit as the movie, just some of the plot elements are different, and there’s plenty of funny parts that were changed or just didn’t make it into the movie.

  4. August 1, 2012 8:28 pm

    I was surprised by how different the film and book were as well, but I did enjoy some of the adult humour in this one. I agree with you about Toothless’s brattiness, though!

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