Review: How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell

How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell

How to Train Your Dragon (How to Train Your Dragon#1)
Cressida Cowell
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Published May 1, 2004

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

About How to Train Your Dragon

Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III, the quiet and thoughtful son of the Chief of the Hairy Hooligans, tries to pass the important initiation test of his Viking clan by catching and training a dragon. Can Hiccup do it without being torn limb from limb?

Join his adventures and misadventures as he finds a new way to train dragons–and becomes a hero. This action-packed, hilarious, and perfectly illustrated novel is a modern classic beloved by millions across the globe.

How to Train Your Dragon has sold over 8 million books worldwide in 38 languages. It is also an award-winning DreamWorks film series, and a TV series shown on Netflix and CBBC. The first book in Cressida’s new series, The Wizards of Once (also signed by DreamWorks), is a number one bestseller.

How to Train Your Dragon on Goodreads

My Review

It’s always risky reading a book after seeing the movie first. I’ve seen the movie How to Train Your Dragon lots of times with my daughter, so I’m pretty familiar with it.

The first thing I’ll say about the book is that it is SO different than the movie. I would say it definitely inspired the movie, but there’s not much overlap in the two stories besides a few of the characters and the fact that they’re Vikings figuring out an existence in a world in which dragons exist plus needing to battle an extra huge dragon.

Honestly, though, I think I liked the book better, except for the fact that there are so few female characters. In fact, I’m not sure if there’s even a line uttered by a female Viking? I’m not sure.

One of the things I liked a lot is that in the book, Hiccup can speak to dragons, and he hears them talking back. I felt like that made his relationship with Toothless really cool and added some unexpected humor. I liked that while Hiccup is so out of sync with the other Vikings, he already has the makings of a leader, he just doesn’t have the confidence to back up his ability. In an early scene, he takes some pretty heroic action to save a classmate. Even though that pretty much gets him no recognition, since it’s in the middle of a disaster, it still shows that he’s brave and clever and takes care of the other people around him.

I like that it’s his cleverness that ends up being the key the tribe needs in their most vulnerable moment. And I loved the way the dragons, especially Toothless, and their own motivations play a role in what happens.

It took me a long time, but I am so glad I read this book. I enjoyed its shenanigans and goofiness as well as the story about a boy and his dragon and finding the courage to lead others.

How to Train Your Dragon on Bookshop

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 8 to 12.

All the human characters are Vikings.

Profanity/Crude Language Content

Romance/Sexual Content

Spiritual Content
The Vikings believe Thor passes judgment on their actions.

Violent Content
Situations of peril. Battles against dragons.

Drug Content

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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

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