Tuesday, November 17, 2009

How to Be a Pirate by Cressida Cowell

Title: How to Be a Pirate
Author: Cressida Cowell
ISBN: 0-316-01577-6, Little, Brown and Company, 2005
Genre: Juvenile Fiction, #2 in the series
Rating: A

First Line: Thor was seriously annoyed.

Now, I really know that pirates were a scurvy lot, not to be trusted. I really, really do know this. But something deep inside me has always wanted to sharpen my cutlass and hoist the Jolly Roger. A friend and I even co-wrote a story in which we were pirates, and the name of our ship was the PMS Hellborn Strumpet. (That has a ring to it, doesn't it?) Knowing all this, is it any wonder that when I first heard of Cressida Cowell's series of books about Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III, young Viking and Pirate-in-Training, I simply had to have one of the books to read right now? Of course not!

Hiccup is a bit on the small side and completely unmemorable. His small dragon, Toothless, is a cowardly hypochondriac. Together they attend the Pirate Training Program, learning about Spitting, Senseless Violence, Frightening Foreigners, Weaponry, Pointless Graffiti, and other important pirate tasks. Being the son of Stoick the Vast, Chief of the Hooligan tribe, great things are expected of Hiccup, but it looks as though Snotlout (Hiccup's arch enemy and the resident bully) has other intentions.

School is interrupted by Alvin the Poor-But-Honest-Farmer who claims to know where the fabulous treasure of Grimbeard the Ghastly is located. Hiccup doesn't trust the handsome, smiling stranger, but of course he's outvoted and everyone boards a ship and starts counting their share of the treasure before it's found.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Lessons about deceptive appearances and inner worth, for example, are given in a humorous, tongue-in-cheek manner that takes away any medicinal sting. The illustrations are a delight-- looking like the pencil sketches of a grade school boy, hunched over his paper with the tip of his tongue clenched between his teeth. The book can easily be a hit with both children and adults.

Will I be reading other books in this series? You bet! Dragons, Vikings, pirates, swordplay-- I wouldn't miss all this for the world!

[Source: Paperback Swap.]


  1. Years of older brothers making pirate noises in my ears has made me extremely averse to pirates I'm afraid - haven't even seen one of the Johnny Depp movies - but I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

  2. I have to admit I'm not the biggest fan of pirates, either. Still, it sounds like Cowell has a sense of humor - I like that!

  3. This sounds like so much fun! I can picture you as a pirate - with your pool chair floating alongside the pirate ship. Ahoy there, matey!

  4. This sounds so fun! I love pirates, too. I want to read On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers soon. It's about Bluebeard.

  5. OMG! I love this. Who doesn't want to be a pirate or viking?

  6. I don't know that I want to BE a pirate, but I certainly love the way the idea of one lights up my sons eyes like the glint of gold in a pirate's hidden booty. I will mark this as a future series for us to read together. Thank you, Cathy.


  7. Aha! Seduced to the dark side, eh? I love all the silly pirate nonsense, and this book sounds like fun for we older kids.

  8. I added this to my wish list to buy along the way, read myself, and then give to my daughter-in-law who is an elementary teacher. The book sounds like fun. Thanks for suggesting it.

  9. This would have been a great book to read with my son when he was a child.

  10. This sounds like a really fun read (and I've never even really been into pirates!).

  11. Bernadette-- I was an only child, and I've found that to be a big help in many instances! LOL

    Margot K-- She does have a sense of humor that spans the child-adult gap.

    Kathy-- Now that you mention it, I can see my pool chair floating next to the Strumpet, too. Thanks for the laugh!

    Aarti-- Thanks for the tip about the Bluebeard book!

    Beth-- Wanna be an honorary mate aboard the Strumpet?

    Michele-- You're welcome! :)

    Susan-- Nah, I'm always a Good Pirate, I am! ;)

    Joe-- You're welcome!

    DC-- I never left my first childhood, so it was fun for me now. ;)

    Belle-- Yo ho, Yo ho, a pirate's life for me!

  12. I love your ship's name! We're nuts about pirates around my household since the Johnny Depp movies came out. Our parakeets are named Will Turner and Elizabeth Swan.

  13. Jeanne-- I was nuts about pirates before that, so Depp just made it that much worse. I'm glad you appreciate the name of my ship! LOL


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