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Sunday, March 28, 2010 4:00 pm
Reading the Screen: More Fun Than a Barrel of Dragons
Posted by: David Pitt

Somebody finally made a movie out of How to Train Your Dragon (2003), the wildly inventive novel by Cressida Cowell. It’s the story of a “smallish Viking with a longish name,” Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third, and his rather offbeat adventures in dragon-training and sea-monster-slaying.

Here’s the trailer:


The book is, as grown-up Hiccup tells us at the beginning, “the story of becoming a Hero the Hard Way,” and it’s got a great message for younger readers: you don’t have to be big, or strong, or even particularly brave to make your mark. You just have to figure out what your gifts are, and use them as best you can. (Oh, and a little luck can’t hurt, too.)

The movie — which is in 3D, by the way — substantially changes the look of the characters, but I imagine nobody seriously considered keeping the original look of Hiccup and his cohorts. Cowell did the illustrations for the book, and, just for comparison purposes, here’s what Hiccup looks like in the book:







How to Train Your Dragon is the first in a series of books about Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third (there are eight so far). If the movie does well, expect a multitude of sequels. But don’t ignore the books, please. Cowell is a wonderful storyteller, with a gift for funny characters, silly situations, and foolish linguistic shenanigans. Parents reading the books to their children could find themselves laughing at least as much as the kids are.

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