Hiccup and Toothless: The Book Versus the Movie

For those of you who know me, you know what a huge How to Train your Dragon fan I am. I love the movie and the books even more than my kids and for a while, I had to hide how into a “kids” movie I was. In order to expand my style of writing, I thought I’d start doing little review pieces about movies I love, their connections to books, character descriptions, things that stood out in my mind etc. Here’s the first of what will hopefully be a regular series! 

DreamWorks’ blockbusting animated movie ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ is loosely based on the book of the same name by Cressida Cowell. Apart from a few of the main characters and basic elements of the story, there are numerous differences between the book and the movie. A mere look at the main characters Hiccup and Toothless in the book versus their portrayal in the movie reveals the extent to which the movie deviates from the story in the book.

Hiccup and Toothless as Individual Characters

The character and appearance of Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III in the movie closely resembles his description in the novel. He is a scrawny Viking from the Hairy Hooligans tribe, unusual because of his physical appearance as well as his intelligence. He is commonly teased and looked down upon by the other Vikings, just as in the beginning of the first movie. However, he owns two dragons, one named Toothless and the other Windwalker.

Toothless the dragon is drastically different in the book and the movie. While the film portrays him as a huge black Night Fury, the rarest and the most intelligent of the dragon species, in the book he is a tiny green and red dragon, believed to be a Common or Garden Dragon. Later on, he is found to be a young Seadragonus Giganticus Maximus. As his name suggests, he does not have teeth.

The Relationship Between Hiccup and Toothless

In the book, Cressida describes Toothless as a disobedient, selfish and ungrateful dragon, but very attached to Hiccup. The film portrays Hiccup and Toothless as best friends, sharing a great rapport and being in tune with each other’s needs and wishes. Toothless is very obedient in the movie, except when he thinks he has a better plan than Hiccup. While Toothless is small enough to sit on Hiccup’s arm in the book, he is a huge dragon that Hiccup loves flying on in the film.

Another important difference is the way that Hiccup and Toothless’ relationship evolves. In the book, the villagers of Berk have a tradition of capturing and training dragons, and Hiccup captures Toothless in order to train him in accordance with the rite of passage. However, Toothless’ disobedience gives Hiccup much trouble, and he finally figures out his own way to train the dragon.

The story of the film is entirely different, as the Vikings of Berk consider the dragons to be their enemies. Hiccup, in an attempt to prove his worth to the village, tries to shoot down a dragon. He successfully manages to strike a Night Fury, and goes looking for the injured creature in order to finish it off. However, when he finally finds the dragon, he is unable to bring himself to kill it. Finally, he sets the dragon free and even designs a makeshift tail for him when he realizes it cannot fly on its own. As Hiccup spends time with the dragon and helps it take to the skies once more, the two become good friends. Eventually, Hiccup manages to convince the rest of the village that Vikings and dragons can co-exist peacefully, and even teaches the others how to befriend and train dragons.

Teachers Speak on Lesson Plans

As a teacher I have often wondered if the routine task of making lesson plans is redundant or essential. What do the other teachers from the U.S. have to say on that? Here’s what I gathered after talking to them.

Lesson Plans: The Not-so-Good

Many feel that lesson plans don’t have any quantitative outcome. A veteran teacher I once met at a conference told me that teachers should step into class with an open mind that is ready for discussion. Relying on pre-made notes and lesson plans is a bad habit. According to her, free-minded teaching is an art.

The typical habit of preparing lesson plans on Sunday evenings seems to have never worked for many a teacher. Though it involves meticulous planning and intensive research, somehow, lesson plans have failed for many teachers who have walked into the classroom with a set list of points and have been unable to effectively answer students’ questions.

However, many teachers agree that self-made lesson plans are more helpful than the ready-made lesson plans available online, if at all we choose to adopt them. The online resources have a broader perspective that cannot be applied to a variety of talent and intellect present in the classroom.

Lesson Plans: A Necessity

Here’s what teachers who swear by lesson plans have to say. Janice, a friend of mine and a teacher for 30 years, says she has walked into the classroom without a lesson plan almost a dozen times in the beginning of her career and it failed every single time. She eventually started to create lesson plans which ran into pages! She started using her own notebooks because the pre-issued standard lesson plan booklets never had enough space to accommodate her elaborate planning. Now that she has retired, young teachers still visit her to borrow her detailed lesson plans as she has tried to include the learning needs of the different kinds of kids she came across during her teaching years. Lesson plans are never “one size fits all”, she adds.

Planning lessons is a learning activity for teachers too. It involves selecting and prioritizing content, choosing activities to introduce kids to the content (unique activities to suit different needs of children), and sampling their learning through assessments. If at all lesson plans are needed in the classroom, they have to have an in-depth representation of the content and a perfect blend of teaching, activities, and assessment. Too much teaching and very little assessment can never make a perfect lesson plan. Teachers suggest that consulting with their colleagues result in the best lesson plans that help them shape the future perfectly!