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

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

How to Be a Pirate (How to Train Your Dragon #2)
Cressida Cowell
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Published February 1, 2010 (orig. 2004)

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About How to Be a Pirate

When Hiccup finds a coffin at sea, he opens it to discover a riddle that will lead to the treasure of Grimbeard the Ghastly, the world’s greatest pirate and Hiccup’s ancestor. So Hiccup and his friends set out on a treasure hunt, determined to master the art of swordfighting. How else will they escape an island of murderous dragons, defeat a boatload of Viking pirates, and survive all the twists and turns their journey will bring?

Join Hiccup and his friends on another rollicking illustrated adventure, and discover the brilliant combination of magic, action, humor, and heart that has made Cressida Cowell a beloved bestseller around the globe.

My Review

My only complaint about this book is that there are practically no female characters at all. There are maybe a couple references to female characters in the village, but no one of note and none involved in resolving the plot of the story. It’s also an entirely white cast. I’m not at all sure of the history of Vikings and whether there are simple/creative ways to incorporate BIPOC into the story and what those might be.

That said, HOW TO BE A PIRATE is another wild and wacky adventure starring Hiccup and his dragon Toothless. There’s no overlap between this story and the second HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON movie. It’s an entirely different book, as the title suggests.

At first, it seems Hiccup is outmatched and ill-equipped for the Viking challenges before him. He’s both terrible at swordplay and at an apparent disadvantage with Toothless as his dragon to hunt for treasure.

As the story progresses, Hiccup faces challenges that require more than brute strength and a dragon with a super-sniffer. As with the first book in the series, it’s here that Hiccup finds his opportunity to shine.

Toothless is still my favorite character, though he’s totally different than the dragon in the movie. He’s kind of goofy and irascible but smart. He and Hiccup make a comedic pair, but they also have a great bond which shows when things get dicey.

All in all, I enjoyed this book. I don’t know that I’ll read the rest of the series, but I can definitely see why they’re so lasting and popular.

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 8 to 12.

Characters are white Vikings.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Some crude references to passing gas.

Romance/Sexual Content

Spiritual Content
Brief references to Valhalla.

Violent Content
Situations of peril and battle scenes. One human character threatens to eat other human characters.

Drug Content

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