Plot: Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III, heir to the Hairy Hooligans, doesn’t look like a viking hero. He is small and known by the nickname “The Useless”. Unfortunately like every young viking he must pass the Dragon Initiation Program or be forever exiled from the tribe. This means risking his life to capture and train a young dragon. Hiccup may not be strong or brave, and he will have to become a hero the hard way, but he has a unique skill that might help him in his quest.
I read the beginning of this novel to some kids in order to get them hooked… and got myself hooked too. I needed to find out how to train a dragon (it turns out the age old viking wisdom, YELL AT IT, doesn’t always work) and how Hiccup was going to get himself out of the sticky situation he was in (it turns out it got much, much worse before it got better). Before I knew it, I had read the whole thing in a single sitting.
The novel is hilarious: full of ridiculous names, off colour humour and silly traditions. Cowell isn’t afraid to be silly and the boys – and I – loved it. And I must say that I had a blast with all the yelling when I was reading it out loud. But more than that, it’s a fun adventure with a great hero. Hiccup may not seem like much at first but when faced with danger he reacts with courage, loyalty and cleverness.
There’s a whole other level of joy that comes from discovering the different kinds of dragons – from mood dragons to toothless nightmares – their quirks and personalities. It’s sure to please information-seeking readers. My edition even comes with dragon collector cards. 🙂
There are 9 other volumes in this series. Volume 2, How to be a Pirate, is sitting next to me as I type this.