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

Book Details:

Year of Publication: 2003

Genre: Fantasy (Middle Grade)

Format (How I Read It): Paperback

Goodreads Synopsis:

Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III, the quiet and thoughtful son of the Chief of the Hairy Hooligans, tries to pass the important initiation test of his Viking clan by catching and training a dragon. Can Hiccup do it without being torn limb from limb?

Join his adventures and misadventures as he finds a new way to train dragons–and becomes a hero. This action-packed, hilarious, and perfectly illustrated novel is a modern classic beloved by millions across the globe.

Book Review

“I was not a natural. . . . This is the story of becoming . . . the Hard Way.”

Themes: Being brave is about facing your fears. You don’t have to be perfect to be a hero. Creative thinking can solve big problems. It’s okay to not fit in.

Character Development: The characters in this were over-the-top and fun and hilarious! They didn’t develop too much (other than Hiccup who became much more confident), but that’s okay! And this is a series, so I’m sure there’s more character development in future books. In general, the characters were pretty similar to their movie versions, and that’s about where the similarities end! The character who was most different among the two adaptations was probably Toothless, surprisingly!

Plot/Pacing: Fast pacing and a really fun plot. There was so much adventure and fun Viking banter. There was also a lot of thrill and danger, though it never felt intense or scary.

“The thing is, we are all, in a sense, supper. Walking, talking, breathing suppers, that’s what we are. Take you, for instance. YOU are about to be eaten by ME, so that makes you supper. That’s obvious. But even a murderous carnivore like myself will be supper for worms one day. We’re all snatching precious moments from the peaceful jaws of time.”

Writing Style: The writing style was so fun (how many times am I going to use this adjective to describe this book??). The dialogue really made the characters come to life, the illustrations made the setting come alive, and overall the writing was just really humorous and engaging.

“Bingeability”: High.

Emotional Investment: Moderate.

Windows and Mirrors: Not fitting in. Wanting to be brave/heroic. Vikings?

“Being frightened is not the same as being a coward.”

Overall Thoughts: I wouldn’t necessarily say the movie is better than the book, but it is incredibly different! I read this to see if it would be a good option for comparing and contrasting the book and movie in class, but honestly there were very few similarities! I personally prefer the movie because I felt like it had a little bit more substance, but this was fantastic in its own way as well. This would be the perfect book for hooking a reluctant young reader.

Recommendation: This would be fun to do as a read-aloud, but also would be difficult unless you’re really good at doing funny, over-the-top voices! It could be used as a compare-and-contrast activity with the movie, but the plots are entirely different so it might be difficult to compare. In general, though, this is just a great book to have in a home or classroom library. Beware of some illustrations, however, that may elicit some giggles if you decide to use this in the classroom! For example, there’s one illustration (and moment in the story) involving a bra that would definitely lead to some sort of reaction from children. Not a problem by any means, but just something to be aware of!

700+ Free Dividers & Decorative Images

Thank you for reading my review! Leave a comment letting me know if you’ve read this one or have any questions about it, and keep an eye out for my next review!

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