Renee Mihulka – Children's Book Reviews & Writer

How to Train your Dragon: How to Twist a Dragon’s Tale (Book 5)

how to twist a dragon's tale

Funny, Easy to read, with a host of flamboyant characters

OVERALL: 3.5 4 Stars

Concept:4.5 Stars
Characters:4 Stars
Plot:3 Stars
Writing:4 Stars


Cressida Cowell
Cressida Cowell
Abrams Books


Description: This is the fifth book in the incredibly popular ‘How to train your Dragon’ series. The story is told through the eyes of Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third, the son of the current Chief of the Viking Hooligans who has the special gift of being able to talk with dragons. In this book Hiccup has to try and return the stolen Fire stone to the volcano before the Exterminator dragons destroy the whole Viking clan.

There is a TV series based on the books as well as movies and video games. Currently there are twelve books in the series.

Concept: The concept behind this book is a unique one which is much of the reason why this series has been so popular. Hiccup is the son of the chief with a lot of expectation on his shoulders who just wants to be a good Viking chief some day. He has the added burden of being able to converse with dragons, which is looked upon as suspicious rather than something laudable although it tends to get him out of a lot of trouble. This is a funny, light book which boys in particular will enjoy because of the gross out humour. It is very much in the vein of Roald Dahl but still has its own unique voice and distinct feel.

Characters: Pretty much all of the characters in this book are male, even the dragons, which I find kinda disappointing. However having said that there are a lot of ‘characters’ in this book. Cressida Cowell creates some very funny adults and each dragon has its own personality as well. I am sure she has a wonderful time coming up with names like Humungously Hotshot, Rude-rippers, Lava-louts and Stoick the Vast.

Plot: The story kept me engaged enough, although there were times where it wasn’t the story but rather the general absurdity and word play that moved me along. Given that this is the first and only book I have read in the series and it is the fifth book in that series, I am sure that I missed a lot of interesting links that I would have picked up on if I had read the previous books. However this book does stand on its own. Does it make me want to read the rest. Not really no.

Writing: The writing is good. As mentioned earlier, what stands out about Cowell’s writing is her use of names and her description of funny situations.

This book has an interactive website your might want to check out! dragon map 2

PARENTS: This is a book that yours boys will definitely enjoy. It has just the right amount of grossness and action to keep them interested and amused. Cressida Cowell also peppers the book with many pictures which have been shown to draw boys especially, in and keep their attention. With Twelve in the series this might be a winner to keep your boys reading consistently. The themes in this book are how things in the past can affect outcomes in the future. Bravery and loyalty.

Things to ask and discuss:

(If you haven’t read the book, don’t worry. Ask these questions anyway and coax the answers and details out. Being able to recount and articulate ideas from text they have read is an important skill for kids to learn and develop. Also, don’t worry if they don’t want to talk about some of the things listed here, it’s ok to just let them talk about the bits they want to. Bottom line is, they will love that you are showing an interest and asking for their opinion, even if they don’t always show it!)

1) Was Hiccups ability to understand Dragonese a positive or a negative and why?

2) Do you think that Humungeously Hotshot was a good Bardigard? Why or why not?

3) Do you think this is the last we will see of Alvin the treacherous?

4) Why was Hiccups grandfather down in a hole, refusing to speak?



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Book Reviews and Writer