How to Be a Pirate: How to Train Your Dragon #2 by Cressida Cowell

Cressida Cowell returns with the second in the How to Train your Dragon children’s series, featuring David Tennant as the narrator.  Now Hiccup is in ‘Viking Training” where one of the lessons is

How to Be a Pirate

Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III is still a highly unlikely Viking hero: smallish, bookish, not very sporty, with the smallest and possibly most spoilt and recalcitrant dragon of all the trainee boys. And far from the first task to become a Hairy Hooligan, the trainees now need to spend 4 years training to be Pirates, because you do know that all good Vikings must also have pirate skills.

Of course, Hiccup and his best friend Fishlegs aren’t particularly thrilled with this part of their training, and a particularly clever start off as Hiccup and Toothless match wits will have you giggling and does truly show Hiccup’s unique approach to tasks.

Pirates have to train on ships, so the boys head off with their dragons and other tribe members on their first quest: go to the island and find the treasure left by Grimbeard the Ghastly: the one who finds the treasure is the ‘true’ heir and meant to be leader of the Hairy Hooligans.  Of course the ship runs afoul of trouble and sinks, and the adventures really begin.

Again it is Hiccup proving his indomitable spirit and willingness to keep trying until the end show him as a heroic character.  Even when things don’t always work out, and he is completely flabbergasted by his best friend’s hidden talents, Hiccup again uses his wits and good intentions, with a dash of luck to emerge, if not unscathed, at least alive.

I love the imagery that Cowell uses in her word choices and descriptions: making the word pictures that encourage readers and listeners to participate and use their imaginations.  Easy to understand, but not juvenile, this story is enjoyable for children and adults alike: with plenty of moments to laugh, and a couple of smartly incorporated lessons about greed, perseverance and good intentions tossed in for good measure.  Of course, there is a smattering of fart jokes and references that will tickle children’s funny bones as it appeals to an adult’s inner 10 year old.  And the use is clever: the Hooligan Salute requires that arms flail, voice screams and punctuates the feeling with a loud fart.  Who wouldn’t laugh at that?

David Tennant narrates this story, and if for nothing else, YOU MUST Listen.  His facility with accents is used to great effect, the Scottish brogue that varies in intensity, to the voice of Toothless that is whingy, petulant and lisping, to the addition of several characters who when they are not barking are sounding like they come from Newcastle with that peculiar rhythm and patois.  Tennant doesn’t miss a trick, and his voice is distinct for each character.  As this is the early years of Hiccup’s autobiography, we do have several insets of Hiccup’s interior monologue, and Tennant adds that slightly put-upon, frustrated genius surrounded by morons air that characterizes Hiccup’s thoughts when things are about to go amiss.

Cowell has created a hero in Hiccup: not brazen or loud, but the quiet hero who always puts the good of his tribe before himself, and is near encyclopedic in his knowledge of dragons and other beasties that he and the Hooligans encounter.

 Stars Overall: 5 Narration 5  Story 5

How to Be a Pirate: How to Train Your Dragon #2 by Cressida Cowell

Title: How to Be a Pirate
ISBN: 9781478954033
Published on: 10 December, 2013
Pages: 211
Audio Length: 2 Hours: 54 minutes
Rated: five-stars
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Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III was a Viking Hero--dashing, brave, and ever so clever. But even Viking heroes have to begin somewhere. In this rip-roaring adventure he recounts his early days--when he still had a lot to learn about swordfights, shipwrecks, and homicidal dragons....

A copy of this title was provided via Hachette Audio for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

About Cressida Cowell

Cressida Cowell grew up in London and on a small, uninhabited island off the west coast of Scotland. She was convinced that there were dragons living on this island, and has been fascinated by dragons ever since.

She has a BA in English Literature from Oxford University, a BA in Graphic Design from St Martin's and an MA in Narrative Illustration from Brighton.

Cressida loves illustrating her own work, but also loves writing books for other people to illustrate as the end result can be so unexpected and inspiring. Cressida has written and illustrated eight books in the popular Hiccup series. The unique blend of child centred humour and sublime prose made Hiccup an instant hit.

How to Train Your Dragon is now published in over 30 languages. A DreamWorks Animation feature film is out in March 2010. Also the author of picture books, Cressida has won the Nestle Children's Book Prize 2006 and has been shortlisted for many others.

Cressida lives in Hammersmith with her husband and three children.

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