How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell

How to Train Your Dragon, by Cressida Cowell, was published in 2003 by Little, Brown and Company.

Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III is a truly extraordinary Viking hero known throughout Vikingdom as “the Dragon Whisperer”…but it wasn’t always so. Travel back to the days when the mighty warrior was just a boy, the quiet and thoughtful son of the Chief of the Hairy Hooligans. Can Hiccup capture a dragon and train it without being torn limb from limb? Join the adventure as the small boy finds a better way to train his dragon and becomes a hero!

How to Train Your Dragon is one of my favorite movies (along with its sequel), so when I saw the book I knew that I had to read it, if only to see what it was like. I can’t say I’m quite surprised at how vastly different HTTYD the book is from HTTYD the movie (the movie basically takes the characters and the setting and creates an entirely new plot), but it was a little jarring to dive into the book and see that all the things I loved about the movie were not in the book at all.

For example, Toothless is not a Night Fury in the book. He’s just a little dragon with an attitude problem. And Hiccup’s training the dragons is not what sets him apart from the others in the book; it’s the methods he uses (all those on Berk train dragons in the book). There’s also numerous other differences, and none of that means that the book (or the movie) is bad, of course—it was just jarring.

Also, the book is silly to the utmost degree. I read it and thought, “Wow, I can see 8- to 12-year-old boys really liking this book.” It was a fun book, but too silly—too childish, really—for me to enjoy completely. In fact, after I finished reading it, I had no desire to get any of the other books. I liked the book, but it was too silly for me, and the bratty dragons were annoying.

Rating: 3/5

Recommended Age Range: 10+

Warnings: None.

Genre: Fantasy, Children’s

“Let’s see what pathetic creature Hiccup has got,” said Snotlout, and took off the lid.

“Oh, this is BRILLIANT—look at it!” said Snotlout, when he finally got his breath back from laughing. “What IS it, Hiccup? A brown bunny rabbit with wings? A flower fairy? A fluffy flying frog? Gather round everybody and see the magnificent animal that Our Future Leader has caught himself!”

“Oh, Hiccup, you are useless,” crowed Speedifist. “You’re the son of a CHIEF, for Thor’s sake. Why didn’t you get one of those new Monstrous Nightmares with the six-foot wing-span and the extra-extendable claws? They’re really mean killers, they are.”

I have one,” grinned Snotlout, gesturing to the terrifying-looking, flame-red animal fast asleep in his basket. “I think I shall call her FIREWORM. What are you going to call yours, Hiccup? Sweetums? Sugarlips? Babyface?”

Hiccup’s dragon took this particular moment to give a huge yawn, opening his tiny mouth wide to reveal a flickering, forked tongue, very pink gums, and ABSOLUTELY NO TEETH AT ALL.

Snotlout laughed so hard, Speedifist had to hold him upright.

Overall Review:

My love for the film How to Train Your Dragon means that it was very jarring to read the book, where there is very little in common except for the names and the setting. I enjoyed the book, but I found the whole thing entirely too silly for me. I don’t know if I would pick up any of the other books.

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