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Reviewed by Barbara Karp for Readers' Favorite
Hiccup Horrendous III, only son and heir of Stoick the Vast, chief of the Hairy Hooligans, is back. How to Cheat a Dragon's Curse continues the memoirs of the hero as translated by Cressida Cowell. As the tale opens, the young Viking and his fellow students find themselves on a dragon-pulled sleigh. Today’s lesson is hunting with bow and arrows on skis, and Hiccup is leading the operation. Their destination is the island of the Hysterics, a vicious Viking tribe led by Norbert the Nutjob.
As so often happens with the boys’ training, things don’t go as planned, and Hiccup ends up shooting the Hysteric chief in the backside. The boys narrowly escape, but Hiccup has another worry. His best friend Fishlegs appears to be ill. After they return, a concerned Hiccup takes his friend to ask the advice of the wise Old Wrinkly. It turns out that Fishlegs was stung by a dragon known as a Venomous Vorpent. The only antidote is a potato, a vegetable that does not yet exist in Viking lands. However, Old Wrinkly informs Hiccup that there is one: on the island of the Hysterics.
Determined to get the potato and cure his friend, the Viking-in-training is joined by Camicazi, a girl as brave and skilled at warfare as she is small. Together, the youngsters, with the help of a dragon named One-Eye, make their way to the Hysterics’ island. Hiccup and Camicazi discover the location of the coveted Vegetable-That-Must-Not-Be-Named (Harry Potter fans will love the inference): the Hysteric Great Hall, where a huge feast is taking place. Hiccup, Camicazi, and reluctant little dragon Toothless snatch the potato from under the noses of the Hysterics and make a harrowing escape from the island. Now they must rush back to Berk in time to save Fishlegs.
The fourth volume in Cressida Cowell’s riotously funny series lives up to the reputation of its predecessors. The spot-on narration by David Tennant adds to the fun. Full of kid-pleasing humor, nonstop action, and unexpected twists, Hiccup’s new adventure will have readers enthralled. The surprise ending is the icing on the cake. As soon as kids finish this one, they’re sure to be clamoring for the next installment.