Reading Level 7-8
What boy wouldn’t love to be a viking and have his own dragon? Hiccup Horrendous Haddock, the cheif’s son, doesn’t want to, if being a viking means being a dumb bully. But Hiccup’s smarts earn him a place in the tribe when he finds a way to save the tribe from being eaten.
Watch Out For: Hiccup is placed in some scary situations, but always does the right thing, noting that true bravery comes not from marching blindly into danger, but from knowing all about the risks and still doing what you have to do. Hiccup is teased by the larger boys, but he always deals with it well. The various dragon fights might bother some, but the silly tone should let kids know not to take it too seriously.
An interesting beginning to a series of fantasy books, The Dark Hills Divide left me wishing it has been written for an older audience. The book follows young Alexa, daughter of the mayor, as she investigates her city and the walls around it. She discovers what lives outside the walls, and brings the truth to her people.
Watch Out For: The book begins with the sudden death of a character, and Alexa has to come to terms with being alone with the man when he died. Alexa is a very independent 12 year old, exploring by herself for days at a time. She learns a lot about judging other people as she learns to trust a foe and is betrayed by a friend.