Popcorn and a Book (7): How to Train Your Dragon

The Book: 2003

Written by Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III, a.k.a. Cressida Cowell (Hodder, an imprint of Hachette Children’s Books)

The Film: 2010

Directed by Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders (DreamWorks Animation)

The first time I saw How to Train Your Dragon in theatres, half way through I leaned over to my movie companion and said “This movie makes me so happy!” I was immediately in love with this movie about a misfit Viking who wants to train dragons instead of kill them. Needless to say, when I set out to read the book by Cressida Cowell, the book had a lot to live up to.

And it delivered! The book was hilarious, creative and filled with many of the same characters I loved from the film. But that’s where the comparison ends. It is almost impossible (and pretty unfair) to compare this book with its film adaptation. The story lines are completely different. In the book, dragons are already creatures that the Vikings train. That detail completely changes the whole plot. The book has no Nightfury (but don’t worry there is still a Toothless—he’s just a lot smaller) and no Astrid (in fact there are no girls at all except for Hiccup’s mom), but there is a Seadragonus Giganticus Maximus.

Had I read the book first and then watched the movie, would I have been disappointed? I don’t think so. Every time I watch the film, I end up with a huge smile on face, still laughing at its wittiness and Toothless’ cat-like antics. When I started the book there was the briefest of disappointed moments where I realized that “oh, this isn’t the same story,” but once I knew that I really got into the book. It’s interesting to see how the plot changed and evolved based on the one key point whether the Vikings train or kill dragons.

While the movie has something for all ages, the book is excellent for a child looking to build on their reading skills. Shelved in ages 9-12, How to Train Your Dragon is the perfect book for kids wanting to move beyond the ages 6-8 section.

One last thought: I want a Toothless! If you know where I can find a Nightfury like Toothless, or a Toothless Daydream, please let me know.

What did you think of the film adaptation of How to Train Your Dragon? Share your thoughts in comments.

“Popcorn and a Book” is a bi-weekly meme I host where I compare one book with its adapted film, looking at the content, the way it has been visualized, the experience, etc. If you would like to participate in this meme, please visit the “Popcorn and a Book” main page for details.

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