How to Be a Pirate (How to Train Your Dragon Series #2)

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Follows the further adventures and misadventures of Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third as his Viking training continues and his father leads a stranger and the Hairy Hooligans to the Isle of Skullions in search of a pirate's treasure.

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Follows the further adventures and misadventures of Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third as his Viking training continues and his father leads a stranger and the Hairy Hooligans to the Isle of Skullions in search of a pirate's treasure.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Favorite characters and series continue this spring. Fans of Hiccup the Seasick Viking and his later adventures in How to Train Your Dragon (called a "riotous farce" by PW) will welcome How to Be a Pirate by Cressida Cowell. This paper-over-board caper finds the Hairy Hooligan tribe in search of the long-lost treasure of Grimbeard the Ghastly; crude b&w drawings double the pleasure. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
How to be a pirate? Why, you have to practice sword fighting at sea, dragon training, and insulting the enemy—also known as rudery. In Hiccup's case, you also have to find the treasure, if you are to prove yourself as the true heir to Grimbeard the Ghastly. Unfortunately, Hiccup is not very good at any of these skills. He nearly drowns trying to swordfight at sea, and his dragon fails to find the treasure on the Isle of the Skullions, horrible creatures with terrifying teeth and claws that can neither see nor hear, but can smell the tiniest aroma. Once the treasure, found by his cousin, is on its way home, Hiccup learns several valuable lessons, including the fact that he is a wonderful swordsman when he uses his left hand, and the fact that treasure can cause treachery, as in the case of Alvin the Poor-but-Honest-Farmer, and fighting amongst brothers. Hiccup ultimately finds the true treasure, but conceals its location until the tribe is civilized enough to handle it. The plethora of nonsensical alliterative names makes it hard to keep track of the characters. It is also confusing to find that although this purports to be a journal, it is written not only in third person, but with a narrator who is visible at times. Still, the story is exciting and the author's drawings are very wry and amusing. Caution—this is definitely a "boys only" book. The ubiquitous bathroom humor will likely disenchant most girls. 2005 (orig. 2004), Little Brown and Company, Ages 8 to 12.
—Moira Rose Donohue
School Library Journal
Gr 4-6-The sequel to How to Train Your Dragon (Little, Brown, 2004) continues the adventures of the son of Stoick the Vast and future leader of the Hairy Hooligan Viking tribe. Although the skinny, freckled Hiccup has more brains than the rest of the Hairy Hooligans put together, he has a hard time garnering respect from anyone, least of all his arch-rival, Snotlout. It doesn't help that Hiccup's dragon, Toothless, is predisposed to hypochondria and cowardice. During a pirate-training session, them meet up with charming "Alvin the Poor-But-Honest-Farmer," who is keen to help them discover the legendary treasure of Grimbeard the Ghastly. After a series of hair-raising, humorous escapades on the high seas, a deadly island, and an undersea cavern, Hiccup learns some surprising things about his previously undervalued abilities. The usual motifs of deceptive appearances, last-minute escapes, and the merits of inner worth are addressed with humor that is accessible to both reluctant and avid readers. Cheeky drawings in the style of grade-school doodles add to the general appeal of the tale.-Farida S. Dowler, Mercer Island Library, WA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Quick wit and a heroic heart win out over brawn and bravado in this follow-up to How to Train Your Dragon (2004). Mild-mannered Viking-in-training Hiccup-son of Stoick the Vast, "Terror of the Seas, Most High Ruler of the Hooligans, O Hear His Name and Tremble, Ugh, Ugh"-and his pipsqueak dragon, Toothless, survive storm, shipwreck, monsters, brutal outlaws and the jeers of bullying classmates to discover a huge treasure left by his renowned ancestor Grimbeard the Ghastly. Cowell works very hard to envelop events in a mantle of farce, inflicting characters with proudly borne names like Gobber the Belch and Hugefarts while strewing sudden disasters, stupid comments and crudely drawn sketches or inkblots throughout, but beneath it all, this is a semiserious exploration of what true heroism and leadership are all about. Not only does the larger-than-life Stoick turn out to be a loving father, but, having seen the ugly effects even a taste of treasure has on his fellow Hooligans, in the end Hiccup wisely elects to leave the real hoard hidden. Rank it with Debi Gliori's Pure Dead series, a cut above Philip Ardagh's out and out slapstick. (Fiction. 10-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781840329681
  • Publisher: Ulverscroft Large Print Books, Ltd.
  • Publication date: 8/1/2004
  • Series: How to Train Your Dragon Series , #2
  • Pages: 224
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Cressida Cowell is the good-friend and confidante of Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III, Viking warrior and hero of The Heroic Misadventures. When she is not visiting with Hiccup to document his latest memoir, she lives in the UK. She is also the author of The Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown, What Shall We Do With the Boo Hoo Baby? and numerous other picture books.
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Read an Excerpt

How to Be a Pirate

By Cressida Cowell

Little Brown For Young Readers

Copyright © 2004 Cressida Cowell
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-316-15598-5

Chapter One


Thor was SERIOUSLY annoyed.

He had sent a mighty summer storm to claw up the seas around the bleak little Isle of Berk. A black wind was shrieking across the wild and angry ocean. Furious thunder boomed overhead. Lightning speared into the water.

Only a madman would think it was the kind of weather for a pleasant sail.

But, amazingly, there was one ship being hurled violently from wave to wave, the hungry ocean chewing at her sides, hoping to tip her over and swallow the souls aboard and grind their bones into sand.

The madman in charge of this ship was Gobber the Belch. Gobber ran the Pirate Training Program on the Isle of Berk and this crazy voyage was, in fact, one of Gobber's lessons, Swordfighting at Sea (Beginners Only).

"OKAY, YOU DRIPPY LOT!" yelled Gobber, a six-and-a-half-foot hairy muscle-bound lunatic, with a beard like a ferret having a fit and biceps the size of your head. "PUT YOUR BACKS INTO IT, FOR THOR'S SAKE. YOU ARE NOT AN ICKLE PRETTY JELLYFISH.... HICCUP, YOU ARE ROWING LIKE AN EIGHT-YEAR-OLD.... THE FAT BIT OF THE OAR GOES IN THE WATER.... WE HAVEN'T GOT ALL YEAR TO GET THERE ...," etc. etc.

Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third gritted his teeth as a big wave came screaming over the side and hit him full in the face.

Hiccup is, in fact, the Hero of this story, although you would never have guessed this to look at him. He was on the small side and had the sort of face that was almost entirely unmemorable.

There were twelve other boys struggling with the oars of that ship, and practically all of them looked more like Viking Heroes than Hiccup did.

Wartihog, for instance, was only eleven, but he already had a fine crop of bubbling adolescent pimples and a personal odor problem. Dogsbreath could row as hard as anybody else with one hand, while picking his nose with the other. Snotlout was a natural leader. Clueless had ear hair.

Hiccup was just absolutely average, the kind of unremarkable, skinny, freckled boy who was easy to overlook in a crowd.

Beneath the rowing benches, thirteen dragons were huddled, one for each boy.

The dragon belonging to Hiccup was much, much smaller than the others. His name was Toothless, an emerald green Common or Garden dragon with enormous eyes and a sulky expression.

He was whining to Hiccup in Dragonese.

"These Vikings c-c-crazy. Toothless g-g-got salt in his wings. Toothless sitting in a big cold puddle. Toothless h-h-hungry.... F-F-FEED ME." He tugged at Hiccup's pants. "Toothless need f-f-food NOW."

"I'm sorry, Toothless." Hiccup winced as the boat plunged maniacally downwards on the back of another monstrous wave. "But this is not a good moment...."

"THOR ONLY KNOWS," yelled Gobber, "how you USELESS LOT got initiated into the tribe of the Hairy Hooligans ... but you now face four tough years on the Pirate Training Program before you can truly call yourselves VIKINGS."

"Oh great," thought Hiccup gloomily.

"We will begin with the most important Viking Skill of all ... SWORDFIGHTING AT SEA." Gobber grinned.

"The rules of Pirate Swordfighting are ... THERE ARE NO RULES. In this lesson, biting, gouging, scratching and anything else particularly nasty all get you extra points. The first boy to call out 'I submit' shall be the loser."

"Or we all drown," muttered Hiccup, "whichever is the sooner."


Dogsbreath the Duhbrain grunted happily at the thought of spilling blood. Dogsbreath was a mindless thug of a boy with hairy knuckles that practically grazed the ground as he walked, and mean little eyes and a big ring in his flared nostrils made him look like a bristly boar with a bad character.

"Who shall fight Dogsbreath?" repeated Gobber the Belch.

Ten of the boys stuck their hands up with cries of "Oooosirmesirpleasechoosemesir," wildly excited at the thought of being smooshed into a pulp by Dogsbreath the Duhbrain. This was predictable. That's what most Hooligans were like.

But what was more surprising was that HICCUP also leapt to his feet, shouting, "I nominate myself, Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third!"

This was unusual because while Hiccup was the only son of Chief Stoick the Vast, he was not what you might call "naturally sporty." He was nearly as bad at Bashyball, Thugger and all the other violent Viking games as his best friend Fishlegs.

And Fishlegs had a squint, a limp, numerous allergies and no coordination whatsoever.

"What has got into you?" whispered Fishlegs. "Sit down, you lunatic.... He'll murder you...."

"Don't worry, Fishlegs," said Hiccup, "I know what I'm doing here."

"Okay, HICCUP," boomed Gobber in surprise. "Get up here, boy, and show us what you're made of."

"If I'm EVER going to be Chief of this Tribe," whispered Hiccup to Fishlegs, as he started taking off his jacket and buckling on his sword, "I'm going to have to be a Hero at something...."

"Trust me," said Fishlegs, "THIS IS NOT YOUR THING.... Clever ideas, yes. Talking to dragons, yes. But one-to-one combat with a brute like Dogsbreath? Absolutely NO, NO, NO."

Hiccup ignored him. "The Horrendous Haddocks have always had a gift for swordfighting. I reckon it's in the blood.... Look at my great-great-grandfather, Grimbeard the Ghastly. Best swordfighter EVER...."

"Yes, but have YOU ever done any swordfighting before?" asked Fishlegs.

"Well, no," admitted Hiccup, "but I've read books on it. I know all the moves.... The Piercing Lunge ... The Destroyer's Defense ... Grimbeard's Grapple ... And I've got this great new sword...."

The sword was, indeed, an excellent one, a Swiftpoint Scaremaker with go-faster stripes and a handle shaped like a hammerhead shark.

"Besides," said Hiccup, "I'm never going to be in actual danger...."

The Pirates-in-Training practiced with wooden cases on their swords. "Mollycoddling, we never did that in MY DAY," was Gobber's opinion. However, it DID mean the Hooligan Tribe ended up with more live Pirates at the end of the Program.

Fishlegs sighed. "Okay, you madman. If you have to do this ... keep looking in his eyes .... keep your sword up at all times ... and say a big prayer to Thor the Thunderer because you're going to need all the help you can get...."


Excerpted from How to Be a Pirate by Cressida Cowell Copyright © 2004 by Cressida Cowell. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 19 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 19 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 2, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Second in the Series...Fun read!!!

    This is the second in the series How to train your dragon. It's a fun read with the characters growing up a little bit. Hiccup learns that he can depend on himself and has many adventures with his friends. A bit different from the original story but fun, adventous and had many good laughs while reading. Very enjoyable story and great for kids!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2006

    Fifth Grade Gore and adventure to the core!

    This book, about a rapscallion bunch of pirate trainees is as gross and as imaginative as the first in the series (How to Train Your Dragon). For a 27-year-old woman (that¿s me), it got a BIT redundant...but that may be because I read both books consecutively over the course of 3-4 days. I think I was overloaded with child-like vulgarity...better known as 'potty talk' and then some! I think I will read the third book in the series however, since I really do enjoy the fantastical adventures of Hiccup and his adorable, but annoying dragon. This book, again, will be PERFECT for a fifth grade boy (or adventurous girl). And as in the first book of the series, Hiccup is the nice guy who wins by cleverness, while the brute bully is not rewarded (so moms, rest assured, morality's purpose is present).

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2006

    i love this book

    this is my choice over many OTHER books.Kids will LOVE reading this...i should know because i am a kid of age 11.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2014

    Good book


    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 3, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Barbara Karp for Readers' Favorite As this sequel t

    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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2010

    Good for the target audience

    My 7 year old boy really enjoys these books. My 5 year old boy likes them, but not as much. Ms. Cowell has found inventive ways to appeal to her target.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2007

    This book Rocks!- Drew

    I would rate this book a nine out of ten because it has a very interesting plot, lots of action and some great laughs along the way. I would recommend this book to all the kids in the world because it has something in it for everybody.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 6, 2006


    I think this is one of the best books I have read so far, beacouse it has so much adventure in it and it has a lot of comedy.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 15, 2015

    Couldn't stop in the first one

    This books are adictive and the editions won't help since they've got the start of the next one at the end of the one you just read so I couldn't help but to keep on reading them. They're really enjoyable.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 15, 2014


    The stupid thing won't load.

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