Paragon School review Cressida Cowell


The students at Paragon School enjoyed the Cressida Cowell event so much that we’ve got not one, but two reviews in from them.

Cressida Cowell


Last Saturday I had the pleasure of attending Cressida Cowell’s event at the Bath Children’s Literature Festival. The first thing she talked about was what got her writing and why.


Her first inspiration was Enid Blyton, who made her realise that she too could someday become a writer. Cressida explained that every summer her family went to a tiny island off the west coast of Scotland. There were just the animals and a little cabin her dad built when she was nine years old. If there was an emergency there would be no way of contacting anyone. She also told us that her dad was her inspiration, not because they were alike, in fact they were the opposite. She based Hiccup on herself and Stoick the Vast on her dad. Although she adored her father, she was interested in writing about how a child grows up to be themselves when their father has different expectations for them.


Being on the island led her to thinking about how the Viking’s lived. The island that they stayed on was actually the first island the Viking’s invaded and settled on. Her and her brothers and sisters would go out in their rubber dingy to go fishing or go on adventures like the Viking’s did. She showed us a picture of her and her siblings in a plastic dingy with the youngest child wearing a snorkelling kit. Their parents would just let them out the door and encouraged them to go on adventures.  What a fantastic adventure that sounded like!


Cressida’s fascination for dragons came from her adventures whilst fishing. One day her father was pulling up the lobster pot when they discovered a 7ft Conger Eel! She thought that if this was alive then why couldn’t dragons exist?


I was fascinated when she talked about how to be a writer. Cressida thought that ‘writing is like telling a really good lie’. The way she writes such good books is to research the subject. One of the dragons is called a mood dragon based on a chameleon. She also mapped out her island so she could make the book as real as she could.


At the end she talked about her new book How to Betray a Dragon’s Hero. She says she thinks it’s better than the others. Cressida also talked about the new movie coming in June 2014 and the one coming 2 years after that are both about Hiccup.


I found this event fascinating because it gave me an insight into how Cressida Cowell got the inspiration for her wonderful books. I look forward to reading her new book which comes out this week.


By Alice, Year 6

Cressida Cowell’s Talk              28/9/13

Cressida Cowell, a very talented author and illustrator, has produced 11 amazing adventure books about Vikings and dragons. When she was younger she loved writing and aspired to be like Enid Blyton, the author of the Famous Five which is a mystery series.

When Cressida Cowell was younger she was often dropped off on an uninhabited island off the west coast of Scotland with her family. On the island, she and her family went camping and when she was 9 years old her dad built a little house on the island. They all stayed there for the summer and her parents would send the children off and her mum would say “Come back at lunch time”. Cressida Cowell based her Viking books on her experience on the island, because Vikings used to live on the island, and there were times when she would go and catch her own food and be wild. Cressida Cowell said that she knew what she was writing about which made it a whole lot easier. She said that detail makes things seem clearer in the reader’s mind.

Cressida Cowell got her idea for dragons because Vikings believed in dragons. She also got her idea for dragons because once her dad went fishing and caught a conger eel which was 7 feet long and that made her think that there were monsters in the ocean that even adults don’t know about. She got the ideas for the different types of dragons from the animals she met. For example, the Bee-Eater is from the Basking-shark and the Mood-dragon is from the Chameleon. There is also a fish with a transparent head which she made into a dragon that is transparent. Because Cressida Cowell has made so many characters and dragons up, it feels like she has opened up a whole new world. She said that because most books are fiction, books are a bit like telling a big lie because most of it isn’t actually real, even though sometimes you wish it was.

Cressida Cowell based all of her characters on members of her family. She based Hiccup, the main character on herself, because she is clever. She based Stoic the Vast on her dad because he is brave. She based Toothless on her 2 year old daughter and last but not least Camicazi on her older daughter.

Cressida Cowell was quite funny, especially when she told us some dragonese but she told the adults to block their ears because is was a bit rude.

I thoroughly enjoyed this talk because it was fascinating to hear how she got her ideas for her books. It was also fascinating to hear about her childhood, what she did when she was younger and where she went.

By Alexander, aged 10yrs




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