HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON

Facing sneering peers, plus a cave full of vicious young dragons and two mountainous, malign adult ones, brings an ordinary Viking lad around to becoming a “Hero the Hard Way” in this farcical import. Dispatched to capture and train some breed of dragon as a rite of passage into the Hairy Hooligan Tribe, unprepossessing Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III returns not with a mighty Gronkle, or an aptly named Monstrous Nightmare, but a shrimpy creature laughingly dubbed “Toothless”—who also turns out to be about as trainable as a cat, with an attitude to match. But Hiccup and Toothless develop into a doughty team when two humongous, fire-breathing Sea Dragons pull up to shore, looking for the odd village or army to devour. Cowell adds lots of jagged, William Steig–like sketches to a narrative rich in dragon muck, cartoon violence, and characters with names like Snotlout and Dogsbreath the Duhbrain. Her genuinely fierce, intelligent, and scary dragons nearly steal the show, but Hiccup and his diminutive sidekick ultimately come out on top, both displaying a proper hero’s mix of quick wit, courage, and loyalty. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: May 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-316-73737-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2004

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HOW TO BE A PIRATE

Quick wit and a heroic heart win out over brawn and bravado in this follow-up to How to Train Your Dragon (2004). Mild-mannered Viking-in-training Hiccup—son of Stoick the Vast, “Terror of the Seas, Most High Ruler of the Hooligans, O Hear His Name and Tremble, Ugh, Ugh”—and his pipsqueak dragon, Toothless, survive storm, shipwreck, monsters, brutal outlaws and the jeers of bullying classmates to discover a huge treasure left by his renowned ancestor Grimbeard the Ghastly. Cowell works very hard to envelop events in a mantle of farce, inflicting characters with proudly borne names like Gobber the Belch and Hugefarts while strewing sudden disasters, stupid comments and crudely drawn sketches or inkblots throughout, but beneath it all, this is a semiserious exploration of what true heroism and leadership are all about. Not only does the larger-than-life Stoick turn out to be a loving father, but, having seen the ugly effects even a taste of treasure has on his fellow Hooligans, in the end Hiccup wisely elects to leave the real hoard hidden. Rank it with Debi Gliori’s Pure Dead series, a cut above Philip Ardagh’s out and out slapstick. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: May 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-316-15598-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2005

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MEASLE AND THE DRAGODON

Hopping aboard the bandwagon behind its predecessor, Measle and the Wrathmonk (2004), this Brit-flavored burlesque pits young Measle Stubbs and his doughty little dog Tinker against a crew of wildly inept wrathmonks, or wizards-gone-to-the-bad, led by the last of the dragon-riding, long-ago-defeated Dragondons. Measle’s Mom being a rare reservoir of magical “mana,” the Dragodon has her snatched, intending to use her power to raise up his immense, dormant dragon and escape his underground prison. Pocketing some magic jellybeans, off hies Measle to the rescue, led by a convenient clue to a shutdown amusement park where drawn-out, increasingly large-scale chases and battles await, before the requisite escape and the dealing out of appropriate comeuppances. Thickly padded with repetitive slapstick scenes of the cardboard villains displaying their stupidity and explaining their intentions at length, this pedestrian knockoff makes stale reading next to the better imagined fantasies of Debi Gliori, Lemony Snicket, or just about anyone else. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-06-058688-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2005

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