Book Review: “How to train your Dragon” by Cressida Cowell

In the continuing of reading books long after their hype and after they’ve been made into “Major Motion Pictures” I found a couple of How to Train Your Dragon books at Aladdin. I decided when I saw them to give them a try. I really loved the animated films and was curious about the source material that it was an adaptation of. I also figured it was something my students at my old school would enjoy.

When books get made into movies there’s usually changes. It’s really difficult to fit everything from a book into a movie, usually only short stories can be accurately adapted. I think, despite all of that I wasn’t expecting all of the changes between the two. One of the fundamental changes that completely changes the whole story is Toothless.

In the book Toothless is:

“Absolutely the only extraordinary thing about this dragon was how extraordinarily SMALL it was…”

“This dragon was more comparable to a West Highland Terrier.”

“Hiccup’s dragon took this particular moment to give a huge yawn, Opening his tiny mouth wide to reveal a flickering, forked tongue, very pink gums, and ABSOLUTELY NO TEETH AT ALL.”

The last part is the same as the movie, but instead of Hiccup Horrendous Haddock The Third ending up with a big scary Night Fury like in the movies he ends up with a very lazy, self centered tiny dragon with a mischievous streak.

Another difference is the whole fundamental relationship between the Vikings of Berk and the dragons. While in both cases the dragons are a key part to joining the tribe as an adult, in the book the dragons are more like pets, but more like how ox or old school hunting dogs are pets. In the movies Hiccup is suppose to kill the dragons in order to fully join the tribe. Hiccup is essentially the town nerd when it comes to Dragons. He’s studied Dragonese and can speak to them or at least try which is vastly different and frowned upon since the approved way of training a dragon. The approved of way is from a book that was stolen from another tribe’s library which has one and only chapter  that states:


The Golden Rule of Dragon Training is to…

(The louder the better,)


The book is essentially similar at its core to the movie. It’s about the chief’s son who doesn’t fit in or look like your standard Viking, but who has new ideas and a good heart, and when push comes to shove will save the day, and sometimes so does Toothless, though with a bit more whining. The story has a decent message about doing the right thing even if you’re scared and even if adults don’t agree with you. You should always do what’s right.

“Being frightened is not the same as being a coward.”

I think despite enjoying the book as a quick read, I do prefer the movie Toothless. I like the quiet cat-like Toothless better than the whining self centered purposefully getting Hiccup into trouble Toothless. Also if you’re a hard core nerd on Viking history or Nordic history and culture then this book is a rough read since it’s full of incorrect tropes. Like in the book hygiene is frowned upon as is learning and they wear the horned helmets popularized by the opera.

Have you read How to Train Your Dragon? Have you seen the movie? Which Toothless do you like best?
























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