How to Train Your Dragon (Heroic Misadventures of Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III)



Last updated Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Author: Cressida Crowell
Date of Publication: 2004
ISBN: 0316737372
Grade Level: 5th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Aug. 2010

Synopsis: Grade 3-5–Young Hiccup may be the son of Stoick the Vast, chief of the Hairy Hooligans, but he isn't exactly heroic Viking material. When he and the other boys of his tribe are sent on a mission to fetch dragons to train, Hiccup comes back with the scrawniest creature ever seen. Toothless, as Hiccup names him, is also rude, lazy, and greedy, but when the tribe is faced with horrible danger, Hiccup's unorthodox dragon-training techniques prove successful and he and his unique beast become true heroes. Sprinkled throughout with funny sketches, scribbles, and ink blots, this is a goofy and exciting tale of an underdog who proves that brains can be just as important as brawn. Kids will hoot at the ridiculous names and sympathize with Hiccup's exasperation with his truly obstinate but strangely lovable dragon. A delightful read that fans of Ian Whybrow's "Little Wolf" series (Carolrhoda) will particularly enjoy.–Eva Mitnick, Los Angeles Public Library

Discussion topics:
•  Have you ever met someone you did not like at first but then liked them after you go to know them better?
•  Do you think dragons are real? (The Komodo dragon is an example of a “real” dragon)
•  What do you know about Vikings?
•  There are 4 Viking mythological references in the first several chapters of the book:
•  Woden (pg. 12)- Also known as Odin or Oden, Woden is the chief of the Viking gods, much like Zeus was the king of the Greek gods. Woden is known as the god of wisdom.
•  Valhalla (pg. 12)- Woden's massive hall for specially-chosen warriors who died on Earth during battle. In Valhalla means "hall of the slain", and the dead warriors in Valhalla practice all day fighting each other in preparation for the battle at the end of the universe, where they all expect to finally die for good (but put up a valiant fight in the process).
•  Loki (pg. 23)- he is kind of a half god/half giant who causes lots of troubles for the Viking gods and is very untrustworthy. The mask in the move "The Mask" is said to be from Loki.
•  Thor (pg. 27)- the god of thunder and warriors, Thor is highly respected by viking warriors, and he represents the best of Viking soldiers. He is known for his weapon, the hammer Mjollnir, which, when thrown at its target, returns magically to its owner like a boomerang. Mjöllnir also has the power to shoot lightning bolts.
•  4 days of the week are named after Viking (Norse) gods. Tuesday is named after Tyr, the god of war, Wednesday is named after Woden, Thursday is named after Thor, and Friday is named after Frigga, the goddess of marriage (and Woden's wife).
•  As you read:
•  Would you like to be the son or daughter of the chief, and thus the expected leader of your tribe? Why or why not?
•  Have you every tried to train a pet? What do you know about training pets?
•  Do you think Hiccup should follow the advice of the book "How to Train Your Dragon" on pp. 53-58? What dragon training techniques would you recommend?
•  Have you ever had to deal with someone like Snotlout?
•  Do you think that exiling the young Vikings for not completing parts of their training is fair? If no, what would you do instead?

Craft ideas:
•  1. Create a Viking Helmet! See craft sheet hand out.
•  2. Create your own Viking nickname
•  Background: Hiccup’s full name is Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III and he is a member of the Hairy Hooligan tribe. Hiccup’s father’s name is Stoick the Vast and Hiccup’s Viking peers have names such as Dogsbreath, Snotlout and Fishlegs. While these names sound silly, they define the traits of each Viking character in the way real Viking nicknames defined these real people in the Viking Age: Eric Bloodaxe, Thorfinn Skullsplitter of Orkney, Olav the Stout and Olav the Saint are just a few of the known Vikings in history.
•  These Viking names, however, are not their true names, but rather nicknames. These nicknames were given based on one or more of the categories* listed in the below activity.
•  *Categories excerpted from “Nicknames and Short-Form Names” at http://www.vikinganswerlady.com/ONNames.shtml

Special activities:
•  Write down three of your physical characteristics.
•  Name one good habit and one bad habit.
•  What mood do you think people would describe you as having most of the time?
•  What is your favorite hobby?
•  Where were you born?
•  Using the questions that you answered above, take the time to create the Viking name that suits you best, using two or three of the descriptors you created above.
•  1. Draw yourself as a Viking.
•  2. Have the kids design and name their own dragons. Encourage them to add in whatever features they like. Or have the kids create dragon wings for themselves.
•  3. Have the kids create their own Viking masks.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!