How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell, was published in 2003 and is the first book in a twelve-book series that follow the epic adventures of Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III and his dragon, Toothless.
We are introduced to a young Viking named Hiccup, heir to the chief of the Hairy Hooligan Tribe, and his tiny dragon who has a huge ego and no teeth. Hiccup is ten and a half years old and called Hiccup the Useless by his bigger and more Viking-like cousin, Snotface Snotlout. Hiccup and the other boys of the tribe must climb into a cave at the top of Wild Dragon Cliff and capture a dragon of their very own. Hiccup enters the cave of sleeping dragons and very quietly and carefully, selects the nearest dragon he can reach, unfortunately for all the boys, Hiccup’s best friend, Fishlegs, sneezes, causing all the dragons to wake up. As they run from the cave, Hiccup realizes that Fishlegs didn’t get his dragon, so Hiccup gave him his. All of the sudden, Hiccup get a sense that he needs to reach into a dark crevice of the cave. Inside, he finds another dragon. He grabs the small dragon and gets out of the cave, barely in time to save his life.
When he has a moment to calm down, he discovers that his dragon is a tiny little animal, hardly bigger than a rat. The dragon has no teeth and so is named Toothless. Later, we learn that Toothless turns out to be more than the Common or Garden Dragon that everyone thinks he is and this is a very important key to Hiccup's destiny.
Now, if you’ve only seen the movies, you need to know that the How to Train Your Dragon books are very different from the movies. While many of the characters have the same names (Hiccup, Toothless, Stoick the Vast, Gobber, and Fishlegs), and the fact that Hiccup is left-handed, that is where most of the similarities end.
They are two stories that share a name. They are similar, yet vastly different.
They are both wonderful.
I love the movies. I really do. (Along with the TV shows, and the holiday specials.) I love the relationship between the six friends – Hiccup, Astrid, Fishlegs, Snotlout, Ruffnut, and Tuffnut and their respective dragons, but I also love the books. They are fantastic - funny, exciting, and heart-warming.
The books do not have the character Astrid, but a young girl named Camicazi, who becomes one of Hiccup’s best friends. She is the tiny chieftess-heir to the Bog-Burglar Tribe. She is a joyful troublemaker and talented sword fighter who is always ready for a fight, and she is a fiercely loyal friend to Hiccup.
The series by Cressida Cowell has twelve books, staring with How to Train Your Dragon, where Hiccup and Toothless meet for the first time. During the course of the series we join Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III on his fantastic, epic adventures as he learns how to be a hero the hard way.
If you would like to read these books, you can get them from your local library. I would also highly recommend the audiobooks, read by David Tennent. His voices are incredible and he reads the stories with great enthusiasm.
Age doesn’t matter when it comes to reading these “children’s” books. You will laugh, cry, and fall in love with Hiccup, Toothless, and the Barbaric Archipelago, with its many colorful Viking and dragon inhabitants.