Book Review: “How to Train Your Dragon” (series) by Cressida Cowell


How to Train Your Dragon (series)
by Cressida Cowell

Not too long ago, I saw the animated film How to Train Your Dragon. I thought then, and I still think, that it was a very good movie. Perhaps it’s just as well that I hadn’t read the book it was supposedly based on. I tend to be lucky that way. If I had known then what I know now, I might have been unfairly prejudiced against a fine piece of motion-picture entertainment. Only now do I realize how very, very little the original book and its sequels have in common with the movie.

Officially, the How to Train Your Dragon series was authored by a Viking hero named Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III, who lived some 1,500 years ago on an island called Berk. His memoirs have only recently been translated from the Old Norse by an Englishwoman named Cressida Cowell, whose husband Simon is apparently unrelated to the TV personality of the same name. Illustrated with whimsical crudeness suggesting the diary of a wimpy kid in the Dark Ages, the books offer a blend of rambunctious humor, adventure, diabolical wit, and a light touch of sentimentality that will win over many kids entering the “independent reader” stage. I plan to give these books to a kid who was a big fan of Ian Ogilvy’s Measle Stubbs series. I think the two series have similar appeal.

This series of books runs well beyond the five books reviewed below. Further titles include A Hero’s Guide to Deadly Dragons, How to Ride a Dragon’s Storm, How to Break a Dragon’s Heart, A Hero’s Guide to Sword Fighting (all by Hiccup), and How to Train Your Viking (by Hiccup’s dragon friend Toothless). Plus, it all seems to have begun with a picture book for smaller children titled Hiccup, the Viking Who Was Seasick (alternate title: The Seasick Viking).