How to Train Your Dragon

Book 1

Children - Audiobook
256 Pages
Reviewed on 03/20/2014
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Barbara Karp for Readers' Favorite

In How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell, we meet Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III. Even though he is the son of Stoick the Vast, chief of the Hairy Hooligans, Hiccup does not fit the mold of the fierce Viking warrior, let alone a future leader. In fact, the boy’s quiet demeanor has earned him the nickname “Hiccup the Useless.” On the day the story opens, all the boys of the tribe are facing a fearsome challenge: sneak into a cave full of hibernating dragons and, without waking the fearsome beasts, snatch a baby one for himself. All goes well until one slumbering dragon awakens and alerts the others. In the mad scramble to escape, Hiccup gives his catch to his buddy Fishlegs (an even less likely Viking hero) and ends up with a pathetic excuse for a dragon. Small and without teeth, the youngster makes Hiccup the brunt of even more teasing.

However, catching the dragon was only the first part of the challenge. Each boy must train his dragon before the upcoming Thor’s Day, Thursday, or face exile from the tribe. Hiccup, who understands the creatures better than most people, tries many methods to make the aptly-named Toothless obey him before the deadline. As the boys work to train their animals, something is happening deep in the ocean: an immense sea dragon is awakening from a 600-year-slumber. The giant emerges from its watery world as the Viking warrior hopefuls face the big day. Yet a reptile from the ocean is the furthest thing from anyone’s mind, for every boy fails the test; and Stoick reluctantly orders them (even his son) into exile. Before they have to leave, an unexpected turn of events unfolds that can turn the failures into heroes.

How to Train Your Dragon is a rib-tickling tale that will delight readers from the opening chapter. Sarcasm and slapstick humor combine with a bit of philosophizing to make a tale that works on so many levels. There are a few bits of “bathroom humor” which will appeal to many, but not all, kids. The audio book is read by Scottish actor David Tennant, whose spot-on delivery adds to the story’s entertainment value. Cressida Cowell’s comic tale is the first in a series, so there’s a lot more fun to be had.