How to Train Your Dragon: How to Train Your Dragon #1 by Cressida Cowell

Cressida Cowell comes to the blog today with the first in her How to Train Your Dragon series, this title narrated by David Tennant.  The basis of the movie by the same name, please read on for my review of this children’s title

How to Train Your Dragon

Well, you’d be hard pressed to NOT like this story, adult or child.  Kids as young as 5 will enjoy the performance and voice of Hiccup, as it is his voice that tells the story of his transformation from useless to very useful in a few short months.

Hiccup is a smallish, bookish and young boy who is the utter opposite of everyone in his little Viking village.  Son of the chief, he has reached the age where he needs to prove his ‘vikingness’ by catching and training his own dragon.  Familiar with the epistle on dragons and the various methods used to tame the beasts, Hiccup has an almost encyclopedic knowledge of the breeds, traits, and suggestions from the original book.  You can’t help but appreciate and empathize with Hiccup: he’s polite, smart, self-effacing, and always trying to do the right thing.  He’s not afraid to make mistakes: he is making his own path that feels right to him.  His methods are all based in kindness and reason, all the ways he learns.

As we know, Hiccup finds his dragon: a tiny, spoilt, and stubborn snarky little dragon named Toothless.  Toothless is not malleable nor given to fits of loyalty or gratitude, and often bribery is the ONLY method that works.  Other kids in the competition have dragons that are flashier, prideful, obedient and even more advanced, and each is given a name and description that is often highlighted with insets that add to the imagery for each dragon.

The world that Caswell has built is rich and varied: from the sights and scents to the traditions and humor that is present in almost every utterance.  The humor is perfectly suited and appropriate for younger listeners, yet it never digresses to a condescending level: a balance that shows the author’s ability to craft her words to capture the best of the imagery while making it understandable and relevant to the story as it’s being revealed.

But don’t fall into the trap of thinking this book will follow the Dreamworks movie.  Like most book to movie adaptions, there are differences and this book can and should stand alone without comparison to the movie.  It is a great little book that has much to recommend it, and it is a great way to introduce your children to books, moving them from the movie and television screen.

Possibly the best part of this AudioBook version is the narration provided by David Tennant.  For those who are unaware, he is a Scottish-born RASMD (Scotland’s answer to RADA) actor best known for his portrayal of the Tenth Doctor in Dr. Who.  Tennant’s performance was stellar: using his facility with language and pitch to present voices so in keeping with their names and personalities that each character is easy to distinguish and recognize.  His lisping and childish, inches from whining voice for Toothless is particularly clever, and gives a real feel for the little dragon.  Musical insets with dragon roars are set between the chapters, and it gives a great start or end point if you are using the recording for a bedtime story.  Parents: if you are planning a trip where boredom is a possibility: this 4 disc book will provide entertainment for everyone.

Stars:  Overall: 5  Narration: 5  Story:  5

How to Train Your Dragon: How to Train Your Dragon #1 by Cressida Cowell

Title: How to Train Your Dragon
ISBN: 9781478954002
Published on: 7 January, 2014
Pages: 224
Audio Length: 3 Hours: 30 minutes
Rated: five-stars
Get Your Copy: Amazon Barnes&Noble iTunes Kobo Downpour IndieBound GoogleAudible
See this Title on Goodreads

Chronicles the adventures and misadventures of Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third as he tries to pass the important initiation test of his Viking clan, the Tribe of the Hairy Hooligans, by catching and training a dragon...

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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