How To Be A Pirate continues the story of Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III as he continues to grow into his role as as a viking, a pirate, and the heir to/future leader of the Hooligan tribe.
In the first book, Hiccup established himself as a capable Dragon master, not through his brutality, but through his humanity. His unorthodox approach to training his dragon, Toothless, saved the tribe from total annihalation. He learned that, although his ways are different, his instincts are sound and cleverness is more useful that brutishness.
In this second book, Hiccup is faced with mastering the core skills of a pirate, including swordfighting and adventuring. While taking his lessons, he and his cadre of young viking friends (and enemies) stumble upon the casket of Hiccup’s great great grandfather, which is etched in a forboding message urging all not to open it. Unfortunately, there is a mysterious treasure on the line, and so everyone but Hiccup seems determined to risk curses and disaster for their chance at wealth and glory.
This book continued in the vein of the first, where Hiccup has to stand up for what he believes in (despite his peers, his father, and his teacher not listening to him), and where Toothless acts as the unlikely hero again and saves the day. We learn more about the Hooligan tribe and the tension around Hiccup being the heir. We also learn of the Outcasts, allowing the worldbuilding to begin – there are more than other viking tribes to worry about…
The most important measure of this book is, of course, did my six year old like it? 100%. He giggled frequently and even cackled a few times (mostly at Toothless, who is a delightful little pain in the butt throughout).
I appreciated the worldbuilding in this novel, and the messages within, so rate it as highly as the first book. Overall, 3 terrifying scullions out of 5.