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Reviewed by Barbara Karp for Readers' Favorite
As this sequel to How to Train Your Dragon opens, Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III and his fellow trainees find themselves on a ship during a severe storm. The reason? The boys are learning Sword Fighting at Sea. However, before they can complete their lesson, the ship descends from a gigantic wave, strikes a large box, and sinks. Hiccup and his friend Fishlegs hold onto the box until they reach shore and learn that the chief has called a meeting of the entire tribe. Once the Hairy Hooligans have assembled in the Great Hall, Stoick the Vast has a chance to examine the mysterious box. An inscription claims that this box is the coffin of Grimsbeard the Ghastly, a fierce pirate (and Hiccup’s great-grandfather) who disappeared a century before. Ignoring the Do Not Open warning written on the side, the chief lifts the lid. Imagine everyone’s surprise when the box’s inhabitant is not the pirate but a man who introduces himself as Alvin. The self-proclaimed poor but honest farmer possesses a map of the Isle of the Skullions and a riddle proclaiming that Grimsbeard’s treasure can only be found by the true heir. Naturally, Stoick decides, despite Hiccup’s protests, that the Hairy Hooligans will travel to the island to find the pirate’s hoard. The fact that Skullions — fearsome flightless, blind, deaf dragons with a keen sense of smell that more than makes up for these disadvantages — live there does not deter the chief. And so, the trainees and fifty warriors sail to the Isle of the Skullions.
Cressida Cowell’s second volume in the saga of Hiccup is a delightful continuation of the hero-wannabe’s story. Full of surprise discoveries, nonstop action, edge-of-your-seat adventures, humor, and a character who isn’t what he seems make How to Be a Pirate a must-read. David Tenant’s vibrant, spot-on narration brings the characters, human and otherwise, to life. Since kids need to read or hear the first book in the series before beginning this story, it’s important to have it on hand. And once youngsters complete volume two, they’ll be clamoring for the next installment. Since eight Hiccup adventures are already published, with four more on the way, fans of the Viking-in-training have much to look forward to.