The Harry Potter Dragons – Part II

In the last post here, we talked about the wild Common Welsh Green and the Chinese Fireball dragons. These formidable creatures were faced by Fleur Delacour and Viktor Krum, the first two champions of the Triwizard tournament. But for Harry Potter fans like me, the more interesting ones are those faced by our very own Hogwarts champions – Cedric Diggory and Harry Potter.

  1. Swedish Short-Snout

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Image courtesy: Weasyl

While the book says this dragon is silvery blue in color, the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire shows it in a yellowish hue. As the name goes, the Swedish Short-Snout is believed to be a native of Sweden, with an average length of about 22 feet. It prefers to live in its natural habitat of wild and uninhabited mountain areas.

Long and pointed horns along with an extremely hot yet beautiful (from afar, of course!) blue flame are its characteristic features. Cedric Diggory decides to use Transfiguration – turning an object into something else altogether – to divert its attention. He transfigured a rock into a dog and managed to momentarily divert the Short-Snout’s attention, but then got a bit burnt in the process of retrieving the golden egg, costing him points.

  1. Hungarian Horntail

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Image courtesy: Wikia

According to Charlie Weasley who studies dragons in Romania: “I don’t envy the one who gets the Horntail. Vicious thing. It’s back end’s as dangerous as its front.” It was but obvious that our protagonist would have to face this most vicious of all the four dragons. And Harry Potter did precisely that.

An over-sized lizard with black scales and yellow eyes, the Hungarian Horntail is known for its deadly tail with protruding spikes. With a flame that can reach close to fifty feet, this dragon could prove to be lethal in most cases. The gravity of the situation can be gauged by Hagrid, the dragon lover calling it: ‘a right nasty piece of work’. The Summoning Charm worked perfectly for Harry and got him his broomstick to get past the dragon to its egg. His quidditch skills also helped a great deal in tricky maneuvers.

Given a choice, which dragon would you pick to get past safely? I would any day prefer virtual pets or even real pets over dragons of any shape, size or kind!

 

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The Harry Potter Dragons – Part I

It is only fitting that we talk about Harry Potter when September 1 is upon us. What’s more, it’s not just any September 1; we are talking about the September 1, 2017. The closing lines in the epilogue of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows say: “The scar had not pained Harry for nineteen years. All was well.” September 1, 2017 is the post-nineteen years date that Rowling was talking about. The new generation of Potters, Weasleys and Malfoys are now on their way to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for their official entry into the magical wizarding world.

Since our blog is about people meeting dragons, let’s talk about the four ferocious creatures which exist in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the fourth book of the series. We’ve talked about friendly dragons in story books, School of Dragons with dragon riders and sun-eating solar eclipse dragons in the past. But these dragons in the Potter books seem to be more ferocious than the entire lot of the others put together.

Here are the first two dragons faced by two of the champions of the Triwizard Tournament.

  1. Common Welsh Green

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Image courtesy: Wikia

When Harry surprisedly asked Ron to confirm that there weren’t any wild dragons in Britain, he replied: “Of course there are. Common Welsh Green and Hebridean Blacks. The Ministry of Magic has a job hushing them up, I can tell you. Our lot have to keep putting spells on Muggles who’ve spotted them, to make them forget.”

A native of Wales, this relatively subdued, two-horned breed of dragons has a surprisingly melodious roar and emits fire in narrow jets when angered. It enjoys eating sheep and other smaller mammals. This was the Common Welsh Green dragon Fleur Delacour of Beauxbatons faced for her first task in the Triwizard Tournament at Hogwarts. She put the beast into a partial trance of sorts in order to retrieve the golden egg. In the process, the fire-breathing dragon snored, resulting in the hem of her robes catching fire.

  1. Chinese Fireball

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Image courtesy: Wikia

Popularly known as the Lion Dragon and native to China, the Chinese Fireball is characterized by a rich scarlet skin with smooth scales along with yellow blazing eyes. Viktor Krum from Durmstrang had to face this creature as a part of his task to get past the dragon and steal the golden egg. He decided to temporarily blind the dragon using a conjunctivitis curse. In the process, the dragon ended up crushing some of its own eggs, due to which Krum lost a couple of points.

With protruding eyes, golden spikes around the head and face and flaming nostrils, this Fireball gets its name from the large mushroom-shaped ball of fire it emits when annoyed. The story goes that it is also fond of eating mammals similar to the Common Welsh Green, preferably humans and pigs. Needless to say, the gigantic creature weighing between two and four tons is a force to reckon with.

For those of you who aren’t very familiar with the storyline, in a nutshell here’s what the Triwizard Tournament was all about. In the next post, we’ll talk about the remaining two dragons faced by the Hogwarts champions at the Tournament.

3 Popular Dragon Story Books for Kids

Kids (and adults like me) have always loved dragons. Be it in books, cartoons, games, movies or anywhere else, dragons have somehow always held a charm that is impossible to go unnoticed. It may be hard to believe but we are such a staunch dragon-loving family that we have hand-made dragon eyes of all shapes, sizes and colors, both ferocious as well as friendly, peeking out at us from various corners of our home – the refrigerator magnets, on the doors of the wardrobe in the kids’ room and even a menacing pair on the door of their room proclaiming: ‘Enter at your own risk!’

Let’s talk about three popular dragon story books for kids which my kids are big fans of as well.

How to Train Your Dragon (by Cressida Cowell)

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Image courtesy: Wikipedia

First and foremost on the list has to be the How to Train Your Dragon series by Cressida Cowell. The story narrates the transformation of the quiet, thoughtful son of the village chief into an extraordinary Viking hero. Those who have watched the DreamWorks movies based on the story may not find it exactly like the movie but it makes for a captivating read nonetheless. And yes, Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III might sound like a scary character, but in the story he is the exact opposite of ‘horrendous’ – polite, kind, modest, ever ready to help. The places they explore are dangerous at times but then the Hiccup gang provides a wonderful sense of comic relief to the story, both in the book and the movies.

The Reluctant Dragon (by Kenneth Grahame)

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Image courtesy: Usborne Books at Home

Funny, cute and whimsical – this sums up the story of The Reluctant Dragon. Colorful illustrations make this picture book a hit with young audiences. The English might be a little old world for today’s kids – after all, this classic was published way back in the year 1938 – but the story remains evergreen till date. A dragon who loves poetry becomes friends with a young boy. However, the townsfolk are of the view that a dragon is a dragon and deserves to be slayed, come what may. Now it is up to the young friend of our friendly dragon to come up with a plan to save his life from the people out to destroy him. The Walt Disney movie based on the book was released as an American live action and animated film in 1941.

Eragon (by Christopher Paolini)

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Image courtesy: Wikipedia

Who knew that a polished, blue-colored stone found in the forest would bring forth something that is nothing short of extraordinary – a dragon hatchling? Along with it come all sorts of hitherto unknown magic, accompanied with dangerous enemies, including an extremely evil king. Call it fiction, fantasy, adventure or simply an amalgamation of all three, but as the story of Eragon unfolds, one is left waiting eagerly to find out what happens next as you turn the pages. The movie based on the novel came out back in 2006, an enjoyable adventure flick which the entire family can watch for movie nights at home together.

Wish to add to this list?

Good News & Bad News for Dragon Lovers

Well, for all you dragon lovers out there, we’ve got both good news and bad news. To make you feel better in the end, here’s the bad news first. The release date of How to Train Your Dragon 3, earlier slated for 2018, has been pushed back yet again to March 1, 2019 (which, we admit, is a long time away *sob*). Notwithstanding the fact that the third movie in the series is bound to be a tearjerker of sorts, with our beloved Toothless being drawn away from his best friend and master in addition to our hero having to take some extremely difficult decisions in order to save mankind, this ‘culmination of Hiccup’s coming of age’ is undoubtedly something all of us are eager to watch.

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Image courtesy: PasteMagazine

Now, for the good news – to assuage your sadness, here’s what you should do. Come February 15, just visit the stands and pick up the brand new graphic novel called How to Train Your Dragon: The Serpent’s Heir. The best part? Its story begins right where the second film ended, so you can perhaps make do for now with the gripping tale of how Hiccup and the gang encounter a new enemy with a deadly dragon on an earthquake-plagued island. Rest assured, if the news pieces doing the rounds are anything to go by, the graphic story turns as thrilling as the films as you eventually turn the pages. Definitely some spectacular fire-breathing action in the offing!

How to Celebrate Thanksgiving the Dragon Way

What do kids (and adults) look forward to the most when it comes to Thanksgiving? The elaborate feast, of course! Turkey with stuffing and buttery mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce… Yummy! Well, do you suppose dragons would love these traditional Thanksgiving recipes too? Going by the book titled The Dragon Thanksgiving Feast: Things to Make and Do by Loreen Leedy, they apparently enjoy these as well as other fun activities related to this festive occasion as much as any one of us do.

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Image courtesy: Paperback Swap

Right from putting up decorations in your home to trying your hand at crafts and Thanksgiving games, this book is a fun rhyming story about the bright blue dragons who are preparing in their own way for the celebration. The colorful and expressive illustrations are perfect to hold a young reader’s attention as he or she finds their way through the story. What’s more, one can even try whipping up a couple of the simple recipes mentioned – the pumpkin cornbread or a scrumptious munch and crunch salad. Kids will enjoy how this Thanksgiving story seems to come alive with the step-by-step instructions on doing up the house and having fun with party games involving family and friends.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Halloween with the Dragons

For all the young minds that love dragons and Halloween and everything spooky yet fun, Dragon’s Halloween by Dav Pilkey is the ideal book to be read this ghostly season.

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Image courtesy: Scholastic

Who doesn’t enjoy spooky Halloweens? So does the endearing blue Dragon in the story, who is more cute than scary. He arrives at the pumpkin patch with plans to celebrate the festival in his own unique manner, but alas! All of the bigger-sized pumpkins have already gone. He ends up laying his hands on six small pumpkins instead.

The story goes on to narrate how he manages to convert those pumpkins into a large, formidably carved jack-o’-lantern, visits a Halloween party wearing a particularly spine-chilling costume (a pumpkin actually lands on his head) and also is terrified of his very own whining and grumbling empty stomach while walking through a pitch-dark forest.

The illustrations add more life and color to the already exciting tale. And for those who love pumpkins, the extremely appetizing pumpkin food drawings are like the icing on the cake.

Ideal for kindergarten and up, the Dragon’s Halloween makes for an exceedingly enjoyable read.

Where did Dragons come from?

‘If the sky could dream, it would dream of dragons.’

True that. In addition to the cute little catchable Pokemon monsters and the virtual pets that are becoming increasingly popular day by day, we keep hearing about dragons all around us – in books, in movies, as cartoon characters, as characters in science fiction films and so on. But have you ever stopped to think where the myth of dragons came from in the first place? There are several legends and stories which claim to be correct as far as the origin of dragons are concerned. However, which one among them is true is as good as anybody’s guess.

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Dragon” by ArtsyBee is licensed under CC by 2.0

Here are a couple of real-life animals which seem to have triggered the advent of dragons as we know them today.

“Crocodiles are easy. They try to kill and eat you. People are harder. Sometimes they pretend to be your friend first.”          

Steve Irwin (‘The Crocodile Hunter’)

More specifically it’s the Nile crocodile, the second largest reptile existing in the world today (an adult of the species commonly reaches a length of 16-18 feet), which is thought to have acted as a precursor for dragons. What makes it different from other crocodiles? Well, a fascinating characteristic known popularly as the ‘high walk’ – this menacing reptile has the ability to move by raising their trunks above the ground. Can you imagine a mammoth, lurching, scaly creature walking towards you? No doubt it would resemble a dragon of sorts.

“They were like these Gods of the earth who could understand it so well.”

Peter Sohn (Director – ‘The Good Dinosaur’)

Now this one is pretty obvious. According to this report on the StrangeScience website, ‘some creationists claim that medieval dragons were really ruling reptiles of the Mesozoic era that survived into modern times’ – and who are these medieval dragons being talked about? Dinosaurs. What’s more, there was a Chinese historian named Chang Qu who lived back in the 4th century BC; he discovered a dinosaur fossil, eventually misinterpreting and mislabeling it as the remains of dragons.

“The snake will always bite back.”

Jake Roberts (professional wrestler nicknamed ‘Jake the Snake’)

Prolonged, winding bodies and elongated necks with menacing fangs; how can a snake not be a sort of a miniature dragon? They are ready to strike at a moment’s notice, their sting (read: bite) is mostly lethal and the entire experience of encountering one in real life, poisonous or not, is nothing short of petrifying. Now try to visualize a gargantuan fire-emitting snake with legs for appendages – does it not conjure up the image of a dragon in your minds?

No doubt dragons are scary creatures; but then, who can say no to having a cute little monster for a pet, especially if it looks up at you with those puppy-dog eyes like Toothless does to Hiccup?

Dragons in Literature – Smaug & Norbert

My last but one post talked about two popular dragon characters in comic books – Dulcy and Lockheed. Popular as they are, there are some awe-inspiring dragons in the world of literature as well which enjoy unrivalled attention from book lovers (and now movies which are based on the books). Here are two of them.

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Smaug (The Hobbit): This one is Herculean, quick-witted, menacing and hostile all at once, with a distinct appearance – big ears, fur and forbidding canine teeth; one of the primary antagonists in JRR Tolkien’s 1937 novel. When he gets bored with his life, he decides to kick a bunch of dwarves out of their home in the Lonely Mountain (those who have read the story of The Hobbit will obviously know what the Lonely Mountain is all about).

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Norbert (Harry Potter): Norbert is a Norwegian Ridgeback dragon, native to Norway. He came into limelight when he was hatched by half-giant Rubeus Hagrid in his hut at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The endearing baby dragon initially looked like ‘a crumpled black umbrella’ with orange eyes and spiny wings. Eventually as Norbert grew up, she emerged to be much more violent and ferocious, characteristic of female Norwegian Ridgebacks. Hence, the once endearing Norbert was ultimately known as Norberta.

3 Fun Facts You Probably Didn’t Know about How to Train Your Dragon

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  1. How to Train Your Dragon is the first movie produced by the American film production company DreamWorks in which the hero of the story – Hiccup – is of the same age as the target audience of the film. Most of the other DreamWorks animation flicks feature adults as the protagonists of their movies.
  2. This franchise is not just about the movies alone – which are nothing but the tip of the iceberg. A television series popularly known as DreamWorks Dragons has already completed forty episodes and two seasons and is on to its third, while Gift of the Night Fury is a 30-minute Christmas special short film in addition to two other short films on similar themes related to the dragons. What’s more, there are books, video games and soundtrack albums devoted to the dragons and even an exclusive ice show and stadium show based on the movies! No wonder these beloved dragons are a raging success the world over.
  3. Last but not the least, let’s talk about the most endearing character of the entire series – Toothless. Did you know that the adorable sounds he makes are a combination of the recordings of elephants, tigers, horses, elephant seals, other domestic cats and the voice of the supervising sound designer of the film, Randy Thom? In his own words: “Toothless was the biggest challenge for us in terms of the vocalization, because he had to have so much variety just within his own voice. The voice of Toothless is mostly a combination of my voice and elephants and horses, maybe a tiger here and there. It’s lots of stuff!”

How to Train your Dragon – The Book Behind the Movie

How To Train Your Dragon 2

Photo by: howtotrainyourdragon.com

With How to Train your Dragon 2 taking the box office by storm, it’s time to go behind the scenes and take a look at the book series that inspired the phenomenally successful movie and its predecessor.

A Quick Look at How to Train your Dragon the Book

Set in the fictional world of Vikings, How to Train your Dragon is a twelve-part series of children’s books, written by British author Cressida Cowell and published by Little Brown and Co. in the United States and Hodder’s Children’s Books in the UK. The first book in the series appeared in 2003 and was a runaway success. The latest instalment in the series came out in 2014 and has won critical as well as commercial acclaim. In addition to the projected movie trilogy by DreamWorks Animation, the books have also spawned several short series and an animated TV series by DreamWorks Animation.

All the books in the series, narrate the adventures of Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III, son and heir of the appropriately named Stoick the Vast – chief of the Tribe of the Hairy Hooligans, a warlike Viking clan.

3 Major Characters in How to Train your Dragon the Book

  1. Hiccup Horrendous III

Hiccup is the unlikely protagonist and hero of the Vikings-and-dragons saga, thin, red-haired and intellectual. He speaks Dragonese and is only saved from nerdiness by his excellent swordsmanship. Hiccup owns two dragons – the hunter Toothless and the flier Windwalker. A bite by an evil Vampire Spydragon leaves him paralyzed on the left side of his body.

  1. Fishlegs

Wimpy, squint-eyed and asthmatic Fishlegs is the unlikely hero’s unlikely best friend, but his enemies would be rash to underestimate him. Fishlegs can be cunning when it matters and extremely dangerous in full-fledged battle. Unlike Hiccup, Fishlegs doesn not have aristocratic blood running in his veins – his mother, the daughter of a Murderous Tribe chieftain married an ordinary fisherman. He owns two dragons – Horrorcow a Basic Brown and Deadly Shadow, a three-headed dragon that can emit lightning and flames and camouflage itself when the need arises.

  1. Stoick the Vast

Hiccup’s father and Viking chieftain is a typical warrior – strong but fat and not over-burdened with intelligence. Like any Viking warrior of noble birth, Stoick owns three dragons – Bullheart, Newtsbreath and Hookfang. He is as different from Hiccup as it is possible for a father to be. His character is much the same in the movie series, though the book does not really focus on the strained and complex father-son relationship.

Reading the book series only whets your appetite for How to Train your Dragon the movie! Can’t wait for the third one!