Friday Faceoff – Then let the crabs be cursed by Odin…


This meme was started by Books by Proxy, whose fabulous idea was to compare UK and US book covers and decide which is the one we prefer. This week the theme is Vikings, so I’ve chosen How to Speak Dragonese – Book 3 of the How To Train Your Dragon series by Cressida Cowell.


This cover, produced by Hachette UK in 2010, is the main template for the other covers. It is illustrated by Cowell herself, in the guise of Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III, who is her chief protagonist and heir to the Hooligan tribe. He grows up to be the greatest of all Viking chieftains, and this is part of the ongoing story of how he survives to adulthood – a mighty achievement in itself. I very much like this cover. It is eye-catching and humorous, while promising a big dollop of exciting adventures in the book. This is my favourite.


This offering was produced by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers in February 2010. It has a slightly slicker feel, having replaced the page in Hiccup’s journal with a purple background, but still features Hiccup and Toothless drawn by Cowell – and still clearly in yet another scrape. Once more it ticks the boxes for me.


This cover from Scholastic published in December 2009 features Toothless sitting in Hiccup’s helmet. Once more the illustration is recognisably Cowell’s and you get the sense that Toothless is sniggering about something. Another attractive cover that effectively gives a sense of the book’s content.


Produced in September 2008, this Spanish edition by Ediciones Sm still features the original illustration, but has changed the background. It’s pleasant enough, but I far prefer the blotchy, scruffy effect of the original, which is specifically aimed at reluctant boy readers, who are far more likely to be attracted by the odd ink blot and jagged page.


This Kindle edition, published in June 2017 by Hodder Children’s Books gives the first cover a very, very close run for its money as my favourite. While the original image has Hiccup and Toothless arguing, with Hiccup clearly losing, there isn’t a whole lot going on. However this cover features on of the most dramatic events in the book ripping a tear in the binding as a huge dragon hunts down his prey…

17 responses »

  1. You have stumped me. I’m not sure I can pick a favorite. All of these would make me pick up the book for a closer look.

  2. These covers look so cute! All of these seems to fit the book. I agree with you that I prefer the original background over the Spanish edition, the first background seems to mesh better with the rest of the cover.

  3. Gosh, another week of hard-to-choose covers! I admit, I love the promise of that last cover, but as you said there’s a lovely little bit of outreach in the other covers to boys who’d rather not be reading. I suppose the only one that I feel isn’t *that* effective would be the cover of just Toothless in the helmet. There’s very little to glean about the story from that design.

    • Although if you’ve read the books, you’ll know that Toothless likes leaving Hiccup little ‘messages’ in his helmet… But that is definitely an insiders joke and I don’t think you can afford that type on a book cover…

      • Oh! No, I didn’t know that. You’re right that such a visual’s a great insider joke, but not quite so helpful in appealing to the new readers…

  4. I really like the first three ones – they make me regret I’m not in the target age, because I’d definitely pick the book up based on the cover. The last two didn’t really leave me that impressed, but they aren’t too bad.

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