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How to Be a Pirate (Heroic Misadventures of Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III)

Last updated Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Author: Cressida Cowell
Date of Publication: 2005
ISBN: 0316155985
Grade Level: 5th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Sep. 2010

Synopsis: The sequel to How to Train Your Dragon (Little, Brown, 2004) continues the adventures of the son of Stoick the Vast and future leader of the Hairy Hooligan Viking tribe. Although the skinny, freckled Hiccup has more brains than the rest of the Hairy Hooligans put together, he has a hard time garnering respect from anyone, least of all his arch-rival, Snotlout. It doesn't help that Hiccup's dragon, Toothless, is predisposed to hypochondria and cowardice. During a pirate-training session, them meet up with charming "Alvin the Poor-But-Honest-Farmer," who is keen to help them discover the legendary treasure of Grimbeard the Ghastly. After a series of hair-raising, humorous escapades on the high seas, a deadly island, and an undersea cavern, Hiccup learns some surprising things about his previously undervalued abilities. The usual motifs of deceptive appearances, last-minute escapes, and the merits of inner worth are addressed with humor that is accessible to both reluctant and avid readers. Cheeky drawings in the style of grade-school doodles add to the general appeal of the tale.–Farida S. Dowler, Mercer Island Library, WA Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Did you read the How to Train Your Dragon, or any of the series in which Hiccup is the hero? Or see the movie? What do you already know about Hiccup
•  What do you know about Vikings?
•  This book is about viking pirates. What do you know about pirates (other than the Pirates of the Caribbean movies)?
•  Are there any real pirates anymore? (there are some off the coast of Somalia, in northeast Africa)
•  What does "misadventure" mean? What does this tell you about the book or Hiccup?
•  There are 3 Viking mythological references in the first several chapters of the book:
•  Thor (pg. 1)- 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.
•  Woden (pg. 22)- 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. 23)- 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).
•  Four 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).

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  (p. 10) Do you think reading books abut how to do something is good preparation for doing it? For example, can you learn how to play basketball by reading books about basketball? How about owning a really good, new basketball- will that help you play better?
•  (pp. 26-27) Would you open the coffin?
•  (p. 30) What do you think a lesson in "Advanced Rudery" would be like?
•  (p. 47) Do you trust Alvin? Why or why not?
•  Have you every tried to train a pet? What do you know about training pets?

Craft ideas:
•  Create your own treasure map, and hide your treasure somewhere in it. You can make up your own country or islands, or make your school and the neighborhood the setting of the map, or a mixture of both.
•  There are several brands of sword mentioned in the book. Create your own name for a brand of sword, and draw an advertisement for your sword.
•  Create a viking ship (see http://www.craftsforkids.com/projects/viking_longboat.htm for directions that can be re-designed for R2K)
•  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!