How To Train Your Dragon

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How To Train Your Dragon (paperback)

by Cressida Cowell

AR Level 6.6, 5 points

Have you seen this movie?  I rarely see the movie before reading the book, but I didn’t even realize it was a book until I looked it up after watching with my daughters.  The movie was “eh” for me, but my oldest loved it so much, I had to read the book to find out more!  It appears to be a popular series, but I’d only heard of the movie.  There are 12 books total.  It isn’t clear to me whether they are all told by Hiccup (that’s the protagonist’s name), or someone else, but I haven’t really done my research, either.

How To Train Your Dragon is set in the era and region of Vikings.  Hiccup is the son of a big tough head Viking, but he is small and skinny and not so brave.  He is faced with the task (with several other boys his age) of capturing a baby dragon and training him to do certain things.  The dragon-training “Bible” is only 1 sentence long, and tells its reader that to train a dragon, you have to yell at it.  This doesn’t sit well with Hiccup, so being fluent in Dragonese, he attempts to reason with the dragon.  Dragons are stubborn and selfish by nature, so Hiccup has some trouble, but in the end, you’ll see he has a greater affect than he previously thought.  There is the Big Climax in the story in which Hiccup is revealed to use his wits and resourcefulness rather than brawn and muscles to defeat the antagonist in the story.  Of course.  Because every good children’s story has to have a main character who is smart and kind to defeat evil.

What I liked about this book was that yes, it is predictable.  It has a likable, internally good protagonist who wins in the end, despite the hecklers and bullies who don’t believe in him.  It is a children’s book that should have been made into a movie.  I think some kids need that predictability in a story, because if the author had killed Hiccup or Toothless, they would have thrown this book across the room.  The story is written with humor (they use someone’s bra and another’s underwear as slingshots) that children (especially boys) enjoy.  If I can get one of my boys who hates to read this series, I will have won.

What I didn’t like this book… I can’t really say.  It just wasn’t for me.  It was good.  It was entertaining.  I wanted to see how it ended.  It just took me a really, really, really long time to get through.  I lost it for a few days and read something else.  I can see a book as being well-written without wanting to read it again.  Will I buy the series for my classroom?  Maybe.  If I can get a few hooked on Hiccup, I will have to look into it.

Book 19 of 52

On a tangent… Can I tell you how excited I am about a book I bought today?  It’s called The Mysterious Benedict Society.  I’ve seen it in the book store (my happy place) for awhile now, and the cover has always caught my attention.  Today I actually picked it up and read the back.  In big red letters is the following quote:  “Are you a gifted child looking for special opportunities?”  Yes!  I teach a class of gifted learners (some identified, some not, but brilliant in their own ways).  This is a book that I look forward to telling them about when we start school again.  Plus, there are 5 books (so far?)!  Plus, it is nearly 500 pages.  I need to fly through the rest of my books and use this as my reward!

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