How To Be A Pirate by Cressida Cowell is the second in the series How To Train Your Dragon. There are currently eleven books in the series, but a further book is scheduled for publication this summer, and given the success of the spin off films and merchandise I predict that this is not the last we will see in this sequence either.
My son, Oscar, had already read the first book, called: How To Train Your Dragon, and wanted the second book for his current, school reading. Now that he is a free reader, he is able to pick what he wants to read for himself. I was curious to see how he would get on with this. I had not checked to see if he managed with the first volume, despite the fact that it is full of tricky words, unusual fonts and an entirely different language the dragons speak, called; Dragonese. I wondered how he would have taken all those things in his stride, or even if he would have bothered, choosing instead to just blip over the bits he didn’t understand.
In the event, his understanding was perfect, and before we read a chapter every night he would explain to me in great and graphic detail all the background to the stories and characters, and how Dragonese works, and what other types of dragons there were. I needn’t have worried for one moment.
He loved this book, absolutely loved it, and I had not trouble at all getting him to read his allotted share every night. It tells the story of Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III, son of Stoick the Vast and heir to the Hairy Hooligans tribe. Stoick and his best friend Fishlegs are not your typical Vikings. They get seasick, Fishlegs can’t swim, Hiccup is weedy and more interested in botany and thinking than berserking and looking for treasure. The book starts with the Hooligan boys all being taught how to be pirates by Gobber the Belch, an unsympathetic, shout man who plainly prefers Hiccup’s worst enemy, Snotlout to him.
In the middle of a crisis at sea, they discover the coffin of a Hooligan ancestor, Grimbeard the Ghastly, and are convinced that opening it will lead them to Grimbeard’s fabled treasure horde and riches beyond their wildest dreams. This is despite the fact that the coffin comes replete with dire warnings to all who open it.
This is a beautifully written, funny adventure story with something to delight all ages, and both boys and girls, despite the lack of girls in the story. It would be great for confident readers aged 7-12 to tackle alone, and as a bed time story for younger readers. If you are recommending this to independent readers you will need to check that they can manage the font and the Dragonese aspects of the book before letting them loose with it.
The antics of Hiccup’s dragon, Toothless: lazy, cheeky, cowardly and prone to taking a pooh in the helmets of his enemies, provides great entertainment, alongside the wonderful characters of all the different vikings, and the great illustrations. We loved learning some new words in Dragonese and I am more than a little disappointed that Oscar didn’t decide to read volume three immediately after finishing this book.
I shall read it myself.