I actually read How to Train Your Dragon 04: How to Cheat a Dragon’s Curse (Young Adult 241 pages) by Cressida Cowell last week and am only now getting around to actually typing up my review.
“Hiccup’s best friend, Fishlegs, has been stung by the deadly Venomous Vorpent! The only cure is the Vegetable-That-No-One-Dares-Name. In order to get his hands on this legendary prize and save his friend, Hiccup must travel to the wintry island of Hysteria and battle the crazy Chief of the Hysterics, Norbert the Nutjob. Can he find a way to cheat the Vorpent’s curse, or will he be too late?”
I’m starting to like these books a lot more as I continue to read them. There are messages throughout the text about not being a bully, as evidenced by the continuous interactions between Snotlout and Hiccup. Snotlout has natural talent with all of the normal Viking tasks which involve physical prowess and a distinct lack of tack. Snotlout is a prime example of how people who are raised and trained to think and act a certain way and whose peers and seniors support the old or traditional way of thinking will behave in a manner inconsistent with growth and compassion. Snotlout wants something horrible to happen to Hiccup because then he would likely be the next Heir to the Hairy Hooligans. By this time in the series, though, it’s become evident that doing things the old-fashioned way and using brute force isn’t going to solve all the problems.
This book had some really interesting dragons in it, with the Saber-Tooth Driver Dragons and the Doomfang. I really enjoyed Hiccup’s interactions with One Eye and how the motivating factor for One to help Hiccup and Camicazi get across the ice to the area of the Hysterics was that they could protect all the dragons, and incidentally, the people by bringing back and planting potatoes. With Hiccup, you know that he’s actually considering the welfare of the dragons just as much as the welfare of his own people. Of course, the main reason he sets out on this particular quest is to help his best friend Fishlegs, but that continues to be another representation of how Hiccup is a loyal friend and will be a caring leader.
The entire potato caper is actually highly amusing, including how Hiccup manages to fall into a vat of uneaten onion soup and One Eye’s reactions to most of Hiccup’s predicaments. The frozen Viking warrior holding a frozen potato is partly amusing and partly really creepy and I was actually kind of happy that Bigjob of the Hysterics had something of a Viking funeral, even though it meant the main hall in the village was burned.
I’m still not entirely sold on how whiny, uncooperative, and selfish Toothless is throughout this whole series. Overall, I am enjoying the books and I would probably say this is a midgrade three on my rating scale.
Works cited: Cowell, Cressida. How to Train Your Dragon: How to Cheat a Dragon’s Curse. New York: Hachette Book Group, 2010. Original print 2006.