How to be a Pirate
London, Hodder, 2010, 225p
I just get more and more in love with this series of stories. They are clever, funny, and heroic. Hiccup demonstrates that the qualities that make up a good leader are not always to do with strength and sword-fighting. He is smart and thoughtful, and brilliant.
In How to Be a Pirate, we return to find Hiccup continuing in his training to become a viking, which includes pirate training. There are a range of lessons to be learned, from sword-fighting at sea to spitting. During another difficult lesson, Hiccup is saved from confrontation with one of his greatest rivals, Dogsbreath the Duhbrain, by a wayward coffin. On further investigation, it appears to be the coffin of Grimbeard the Ghastly, with instructions as to how to find his treasure.
I adore Hiccup. Over Christmas, I saw the film adaptation of How to Train Your Dragon, and it was excellent viewing, if a little far from the original plot. As with many books targetted at this age group, the protagonist is not your typical hero - he is not brave or strong, but unlucky and cautious. Hiccup is in a league of his own - he is supposed to be the future Chief of the Isle of Berk, but couldn't be further from the average viking - and he is facing some tough competition.
But the moral to this story is that heroism comes from within. Hiccup is deserving, because he is kind and careful. He isn't dominated by greed or animalistic instinct. He may be pretty easy to relate to, for many young boys and girls. And despite all the odds, he is clearly a hero in the making.