Monday, April 19, 2010

Note of Warning: HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON Movie/Book

A little over a week ago, I was out shopping for books with my friend Sarah, and I happened to come across the book How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell. Before then, I hadn't realized that the movie I had wanted to take my son to was also a book series, so it was a pleasant surprise for me. I bought the book, read it, loved it, and started reading it with my son, who is 4 years old.

How to Train Your Dragon, the book

As I had hoped, he is also enjoying the story. He loves the names of the characters in the books, and it doesn't hurt that there's a fair dose of dragons to spice up the story. I like that the story keeps his attention and has a good moral for kids to learn: sometimes the most heroic of us are the ones we think are the least likely. After all, the hero of this story is a boy who is the most un-Viking of Viking boys, saddled with an equally unlikely name: Hiccup.

Yesterday I took him to see the movie, thinking it would be great reinforcement for our reading the book (we're about 1/4 of the way through the 200-and-some-odd-page book). We were able to see it in 3D, which added to the excitement of his being able to watch a movie on the "big TV" about dragons.

How to Train Your Dragon, the movie

As a friendly warning to anyone else who has read the book but hasn't seen the movie, they are totally different. In fact, the only similarities between the movie and book are the names (Island of Berk, Stoick the Vast, Hiccup, Gobber, Toothless) and the fact that there are Vikings and dragons. Nothing else is the same. Nothing.

While that might not be a problem for most people, it is difficult if you're trying to explain to your 4-year-old why Hiccup's dragon isn't the same in the book as he was in the movie or where the girl in the movie came from. Since yesterday, I've had to say the line "The book and the movie are not the same story, honey" at least ten times. I do like that he is even more excited than he already was about reading the book together (he really loves Hiccup now that he has a mental image for who Hiccup is), but it is difficult for him to understand the concept that a book about Hiccup can tell an entirely different story from the movie about Hiccup.

So for any parents wanting to take their kids out to see How to Train Your Dragon, I will tell you that it is a cute movie and will keep your kids interested; however, if you'd like for them to read the book(s), too, you'll need to remind them (possibly more than once) that movies and books aren't the same. It's a good lesson to learn at a young age, and this book/movie combo will definitely make the lesson a clear one.

I'm not sure why they changed the story so much when they turned the book series into a movie, but it works for the movie. The book is good, but so is the movie. They just aren't the same story.

Happy reading to the children in your life!


Kristen M. said...

This seems to happen more often than not now with children's books. Coraline added another kid, Inkheart changed the entire tone of the story, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs? Well, that one they had to create a story for. It's definitely hard to explain to young ones about the differences!
We saw How to Train Your Dragon first and have the book sitting here. I'm hoping if I put some time between them, he won't care as much about the differences.

Anonymous said...

i love how to train your dragon
i am watching it right now as well
hiccup is soooo sweet

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