HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON

Cressida Cowell, Author . Little, Brown $10.95 (214p) ISBN 978-0-316-73737-1

In this riotous paper-over-board farce, the timid protagonist from Cowell's picture book Hiccup: The Seasick Viking proves himself worthy of the sobriquet "Hope and Heir to the Tribe of the Hairy Hooligans." The protagonist is also given author credit (as Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III), with Cowell billed as translator "from the Old Norse." Indeed, "Hiccup" contributes an introductory note: "I was not the sort of boy who could train a dragon with a mere lifting of an eyebrow. I was not a natural at the Heroism business. I had to work at it. This is the story of becoming a Hero the Hard Way." From his initial challenge—Hiccup and his fellow warriors-in-training must each pluck a dragon from a "Dragon Nursery" where 3,000 young critters are hibernating—the likable lad faces a host of hurdles and beats tremendous odds to emerge triumphant. After selecting a tiny, toothless dragon ("I shall call [my dragon] Fireworm," says nemesis Snotface Snotlout. "What are you going to call yours, Hiccup? Sweetums? Sugarlips? Babyface?"). Hiccup tackles the chore of training the stubborn creature, which leads to some fresh, funny dialogue between the two (Hiccup has the rare ability to speak "Dragonese"). A rollicking finale finds the duo rescuing Vikings from a ravenous, mountain-size dragon. Short chapters, clever slapstick, kid-pleasing character names (e.g., Fishlegs, Dogsbreath the Duhbrain) and goofy, childlike drawings will keep even reluctant readers turning these pages—and chuckling as they go. Ages 8-12. (May )

Reviewed on: 06/07/2004
Release date: 05/01/2004
Genre: Children's
Hardcover - 229 pages - 978-4-338-24902-7
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