I was excited to hear that Cressida Cowell was coming to speak at our library. I was also embarrassed that I hadn't actually read any of her How to Train Your Dragon books. So I quickly repented and read two this week, #1, and #5. I must say they were a delight. The first book, though it has the same title as the movie, does not have the same plot line. In the book the Viking community already uses dragons as companions, but they control them by brute force. Hiccup is unique because he can talk to dragons, and instead of bullying them, he uses persuasion and psychology to win their cooperation. In the book Toothless is much smaller than in the movie. He is small enough to sit under Hiccup's hat. Also there is nothing about overcoming a handicap. Still the movie is very much inspired by the personalities of the main characters in the book. Hiccup's inferiority complex, and sarcastic intelligence in the movie is right from the book. The Viking bravado and funny brutishness is all from Cowell. I can see how the movie people could read the book and say to themselves, these characters could really work on the big screen.
I enjoyed #1 very much, but I almost enjoyed #5, How to Twist a Dragon's Tale, better. In this one a new hero comes to Berk and so does a new threat. An island volcano covered with Exterminator Dragon eggs is about to erupt. When it does the eggs will hatch and the dragons will descend on Berk like a giant swarm of locust. Hiccup, the has-been hero, and Hiccup's mismatched group of friends have to find a way to keep the whole Viking world from being overrun. Even though the story is mostly silly fun, there was a little bit of depth in it. The has-been hero is Hiccup's mother's old boyfriend, and Hiccup gets to see his mother for the first time as a real person instead of just a mother-figure. There is a little scene at the end between Hiccup and his Mother that was rather sweet.
Anyway, I will be recommending this series a lot from now on to kids and to families who want a good read aloud.