There are many children’s books that have been published that are fun for people of all ages to read. Many of these stories, such as Grimm fairy tales, Aesop’s Fables, and countless others have been made into movies from big companies such as Disney and DreamWorks. DreamWorks has released more of the lesser-known stories like The Guardians series by William Joyce and, one of the more popular stories, the How To Train Your Dragon series by Cressida Cowell.
It is the time of Vikings and the Hairy Hooligans tribe prides on their younger generations catching and training their very own dragons. Stoick the Vast is the chief of the Hairy Hooligans, but his son, Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III, is far from being chief material. To be the best that he can be and prove that he can be a great leader someday, Hiccup must catch and dragon, train it, and use it to aid him in becoming a great Viking hero.
The first in the How To Train Your Dragon book series is different, yet enjoyable. It is different in the way it tells a story, yet this is also the reason it is enjoyable. It is almost like historical fiction, teaching children a little bit about the Viking era as well as a brief introduction into Norse mythology. The storytelling is unique, but something about the story seems off. Perhaps it feels this way if one has seen the DreamWorks movies before reading Cowell’s series, for the books and the movies are vastly different from one another. Some may like the books better while others like the movies better. There may even be some who love both. It is all a matter of opinion.
Cowell includes much humor in her story for children. The drawings are adorable and appear to be drawings children would draw and, with how some of the characters are depicted in these drawings, will most certainly get laughs out of younger readers. The little snippets about each dragon are fun and informative and allow the readers to picture the dragons in their minds. The names are quite interesting: Snotlout, Fishlegs, Gober, Stoick, Hiccup. These are just a few of the strange, yet humorous names of the Vikings the readers follow. One of the funniest parts of the story is the book written by the Viking Professor Yobbish (yet another strange name) titled ‘How To Train Your Dragon.’ The only piece of advice written in it for anyone wanting to learn how to train a dragon is, “YELL AT IT! (The louder the better)” (Cowell 57). If this does not get at least a chuckle out of a reader, then this book is not for him or her.
Aside from the more fun aspects of the story, there are other aspects that seem a bit more mature for children (then again, how should the older generation know what is and what is not good for the younger generations anymore?). The dragons themselves are violent. Of course, they are dragons and it is understandable for giant, fierce, mythological beings to be as such, but even the DreamWorks movie dimmed down the violence between the dragons. No blood, no guts, no nothing like that. In Cowell’s story, however, one gets the blood spilled by dragons and even from Vikings and even has one dragon eat another. That is not a good picture for a child to picture. Then again, it is a new age, so who is to say anymore? And another different aspect was that Toothless was not a very likeable dragon. He was incredibly conceded and did not care in the least whether Hiccup was happy or not. This is definitely not the same loveable Toothless in the DreamWorks movie and may be a bit of a turnoff for those who have seen the movie first before reading Cowell’s story.
How To Train Your Dragon is a cute story and one many young boys would find enjoyable. It has Vikings, it has a lot of yelling, it has dragons, it has mythology: what more could one ask for from a children’s fantasy book? Though it may intrigue the younger reading crowd, it may not appeal so much to the older reading crowd or to those who prefer the movie. It has a unique enough storyline to keep a reader intrigued, but perhaps the books just get better as the series progresses and one should not base a series’ entire plot based on just one book. It is a good start to a series for younger children and meant for younger children. Parents would find more enjoyment reading the story to their children then reading it on their own time.