Title: How to Train Your Dragon (How to Train Your Dragon, 1)
Author: Cressida Cowell
Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade
Publisher: Hodder Children’s Books (4th February 2010)
HICCUP HORRENDOUS HADDOCK THE THIRD was an awesome swordfighter, a dragon-whisper and the greatest Viking Hero that ever lived.
Can Hiccup pass the Dragon Initiation Programme with a toothless dragon and fight the Seadragonus Giganticus Maximus before it gobbles up every Viking on Berk? It’s time for Hiccup to learn how to be a Hero.
Rating: **** (4 stars)
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON by Cressida Cowell is the first book in the series of the same name. The book follows Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third as he attempts to pass the Dragon Initiation Programme.
I first heard about this series through the DreamWorks Animation film How to Train Your Dragon, which was based on Cowell’s series. The book, HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON is very different to the film in a lot of ways and although this did disappoint me a little, I did think the book was an enjoyable read.
One of the things that I really liked about HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON is that it really feels like a book written by Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III. Cowell has really captured Hiccup’s voice as he narrates the story, and she has also provided some great illustrations that look like a boy under thirteen drew them. Hiccup comes alive on the page, as does the world of the Vikings on Berk. Hiccup is a brilliant narrator; his voice is often humorous, and he seems quite knowledgeable of his world.
The story being told through Hiccup works well and I enjoyed how Cowell wrote his friendships and his relationship with his father – Stoick the Vast – and his dragon – Toothless. Toothless is a brilliant character, and he stands out from all the other dragons in the book – he appears to be quite a handful.
The plot of HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON is a simple one, though brilliantly told. For me, the book worked because of the illustrations and the narrative rather than through any complexity of plot. In a lot of ways HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON is what you would expect from a middle grade* fantasy novel; Cowell knows her audience.
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON is a strong start to what promises to be an interesting series – there are twelve instalments in total. If you are looking for a book to get a young reader into the fantasy genre, then this might be a good book to start with.
* Middle grade is, as I understand it, 9 to 12 years.