Select one of the keywords
How to Speak Dragonese    by Cressida Cowell order for
How to Speak Dragonese
by Cressida Cowell
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2006 (2006)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

How to Speak Dragonese follows How to Train Your Dragon and How to Be a Pirate in a hilarious series starring young Viking Hero-in-Waiting, Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III. The book is filled with antic black and white illustrations that reflect the humor and context. It also includes handy excerpts from Hiccup's book, How to Speak Dragonese. The author, Cressida Cowell, apparently translated Hiccup's memoirs 'from the old Norse'.

It's a time of waterlogged Viking heroes and of dragons, 'some larger than mountainsides ... some smaller than your fingernail'. Small, red-haired, eleven-year-old Hiccup has caught a particularly tiny one named Toothless, and is unique amongst his peers in understanding Dragonese - he and his dragon squabble constantly through this story, in which Hiccup is about to have his 'First Encounter with the Roman Empire'.

Hiccup is taking a 'Pirate Training Program' (his report card stinks) and he and his best friend Fishlegs are in the leaky disaster of a boat they built. An attack by bully Snotlout sets them off course in thick fog, so that Fishlegs boards a Roman ship instead of the Peacable fishing boat intended. The friends overhear the Romans' 'Fiendishly Clever Plan', and Hiccup saves a rude little nanodragon from becoming a honey-coated snack.

As events unfold Hiccup and Fishlegs end up in the Romans' Fort Sinister, where they meet an old enemy and share a cell with the Bog-Burglar heir, a small, bloodthirsty girl named Camicazi. All three face death in the arena, but as usual, Hiccup beats brawn with brains - and a little help from (shades of Androcles and the Lion) the nanodragon.

The older Hiccup (who narrates his memoir) advises readers always to fight with 'the power of our brains and our thoughts and our dreams.' And a 'Sting in the Tale' at the end nicely sets up the next episode of this engaging Viking series that perfectly blends heroics with hilarity.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Kids books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews