My quest for a book that appeals to both my six year old son and me continues, with the latest attempt being the first in the How To Train Your Dragon series.
You may think you know this story if you’ve seen the Dreamworks movie and sequels, but I can assure you: you don’t! The novel strikes an entirely different tone and the story told within the differs in many respects. Yes, our narrator and central character is Hiccup, future heir to the viking clan ‘The Hairy Hooligans’, currently led by his father Stoick the Vast. Yes, Hiccup gets a dragon. And Yes, the theme within is about living up to the lofty expectations of a parent.
But the ways the story differs kept both my spawn and I thoroughly engaged. In this version of Berk, all Vikings must get a dragon when they come of age. They scale a cliffside together, infiltrate a dragons’ nest, and select their future familiar. They then must train their dragon to fish for them, sniff out treasure, and be their loyal companion. The trouble is, Vikings have not discovered the ‘gentle parenting’ technique yet and so resort to threats and yelling to get their fledgling dragons to do their bidding.
Hiccup; however, is different. He has taught himself to speak Dragonese and so attempts to forge a different bond with his small, common dragon Toothless (that’s right, in the book, Toothless is the most uninspired and unimpressive of specimens).
The novel follow’s Hiccup as he tries to, you guessed it, train his dragon. There are small doodles scattered throughout the novel that kept my son engaged. There’s a liberal dose of fart jokes (though nowhere near as many as our last read, The Day My Bum Went Psycho). In the end, will Hiccup’s unusual training methods prevail? Will Toothless come through in a crisis and save the day?
As far as engaging a six year old, this book hit the mark. Chapters are short and self-contained, lending itself beautifully to bedtime reading. I had a lot of fun performing the voices, and the story was gripping enough to keep us both interested.
Overall, I’ll give this one 3 Seadragonus Giganticus Maximus’ out of 5. A solid read! We’ll be moving on to the next in the series, How To Be A Pirate, with anticipation of more fun stories.