Playing laser tag with your three munchkins on Mother’s Day = awesome. Just in case you were wondering.
Mighty Mite and I finished How to Train Your Dragon – the book, not the movie – this weekend. Now the book is never the same as the movie, but this is the first time I’ve found a book where the story was completely different from the movie. The characters (well, some of them) were (kinda) the same, and the setting was still the remote Viking Island of Berk, but beyond that these were two vastly different stories.
How to Train Your Dragon, by Cressida Cowell, is a story about a pathetic young Viking named Hiccup, and his attempts to train an equally pathetic and toothless dragon, so he can join the ranks of the Hairy Hooligans. Amazingly, the book is more violent than the movie and is filled with Vikings beating on each other, dragons clawing, attacking, and ultimately obeying Vikings, and a monstrous dragon beast that gleefully discusses “fileting” our young hero. While the violence is frankly described, “large chunks of dragon lay all over the field,” it has a comic book effect in print, rendering it less horrifying. Still, I wish I had known this before I started reading it to my six year old (who loved it, BTW). The book has a juvenile feel to it, as though its Wimpy-Kid-like comic drawings are targeting 8 year old boys, and while it has an impressive pounding beat of action and a happy ending, it felt far less satisfying than the movie. Although Mighty Mite delighted in the book, my 9 and 11 year old sons have shown no interest in it.
RL: 6.6 CSM: 8+ Rating: PG Content: Comic violence, but a bit on the graphic side, bullying
The movie How to Train Your Dragon, on the other hand, I adored so much that I went to see it twice, dragging the husband and grandparents along for the second round. The movie kept the hilarious names (Stoic the Vast) and created a story that was smartly funny, more mature (Hiccup is older and has a love interest), and made the dragons into noble if misunderstood creatures, rather than sniveling, vain little reptiles (Toothless is small enough to sit on Hiccup’s shoulder in the book. And he’s green, not black. Not exactly a night fury). The overarching theme about father-son miscommunication, misunderstanding, and finally respect is so beautifully portrayed in the movie I literally wept. At a kid’s movie. TWICE. The dialogue in the movie was masterful as well:
(Hiccup, chastising Toothless for not helping him impress the lovely Astrid) “Thanks for nothing, you useless reptile.” This is also one of the few riffs off the book, where Hiccup is known as Hiccup the Useless.
Overall, I would say the book is good for advanced readers ages 8+, especially with the higher reading level, but with some cautions for violence, and the movie is good for ages 8+ as well, with some cautions for the two chaste kisses and Hiccup’s desire to date Astrid.
I might have to get How to Train Your Dragon on DVD. But how will I explain to my husband that we have to watch it again, even if the kids don’t want to?