How to Train your Dragon Broadcast With Cressida Cowell

>> Next on Skype in the Classroom, we’ll meet Cressida Cowell, the author and illustrator of the How to Train your Dragon series An adventurous tale of an unlikely hero which has sparked 12 books, three movies, and millions of young dragon fans around the world We’ll learn how creativity, imagination, and magic go hand in hand and how you can use details to bring your own stories and characters to life So, fire up your dragons, we’re about to meet the author and illustrator [MUSIC] >> Hello, from Egypt >> Hello, from Vietnam >> Hello, from India >> Hello, from Indiana in the United States >> Hello, from Nigeria >> Hola, from Puerto Rico >> Hi, from Greece >> Hello from Canada >> Hello, from the Microsoft Office in London and welcome to Skype in the Classroom I’m your host Shannon McClintock Miller I’m a teacher librarian and a Skype Master Teacher from Van Meter Iowa in the United States Some of the teachers watching may know me from my blog The Library Voice How many of you watching love books? I know I do I especially love stories that are loaded with adventures, great characters, and epic journeys I am a big fan of today’s author and illustrator, whose How to Train your Dragon series and the new Wizard of Once series transport me into magical new worlds In case you haven’t been introduced to these amazing stories and characters, let’s take a quick look at the DreamWorks movie adaptation of How to Train your Dragon Meet Hiccup, his dragon Toothless, and some of our favorite Viking characters [MUSIC] >> This is Berk, son It was the home of your grandparents and their grandparents before that But out there, beyond the edge of the world, lies the home of the dragons And I believe it’s your destiny to one day find this hidden world [MUSIC] >> You do know my leg isn’t a chew toy, don’t you? Is this what you want? Yeah. Go get it >> How am I supposed to get down? [MUSIC] >> Hey, Butt. Wait up [MUSIC] >> He’s not the only one [MUSIC] >> Another night fury >> More like a bright fury >> A light fury >> Yeah. Yours is better probably [MUSIC] >> There is an armada with enough cages for all of our dragons [MUSIC] >> This is a new kind of enemy We need to find the hidden worlds >> I will destroy everything you love >> Toothless. No [MUSIC] >> You’re nothing without your dragon >> If criminal succeeds, there won’t be any dragons left and it’s up to us to put an end to it >> So? What are you going to do about it? >> Shoot up game [MUSIC] >> We have one shot at this You brought a baby to a battle? >> I couldn’t find a sitter [MUSIC] The hidden world It really does exist >> Now that’s a King >> You’re right bud. It’s time [MUSIC] >> Wasn’t that magical? One of the things I love about the How to Train your Dragon books is how all of the details come alive and the amount of time I can spend with the characters I love Today, author and illustrator, Cressida Cowell will teach us how we can create amazing characters and new worlds in our own stories and drawings Educators and family, be sure to download the free Activity Plan, an additional FlipGrid videos that your students can do after this event to unleash their imagination So, let’s get going Welcome, Cressida Cowell >> Hello. It’s lovely to be on Skype in the Classroom >> So great having you here today If someone hasn’t read your books or seen your movie, just tell me what they’re about

>> Well, How to Train your Dragon is about a world where dragons really exist It’s a Viking world, and my Viking hero is Hiccup He has to find a dragon and train it because he’s going to keep it as a pet because I think a dragon would make the best pet ever >> Definitely. That would be Where did the idea for How to Train your Dragon come from? >> It’s almost very unlikely, but it came from something in my own childhood I grew up in London because my dad worked in London, in a house without a garden but my dad’s heart was in the wilderness He was something called an environmentalist So, what that meant for us as a family was that every year from when I was a baby, we would be taken, dropped off on this uninhabited island off the West Coast of Scotland, taken there by a local boatman, dropped off and picked up again two weeks later This was an island so small that when you stand on the top of it, you can see sea all around you There was nothing on the island There was no houses, there was no supermarkets, no mobile phones back in the 1970s, there was absolutely no way of contacting out world Then from when I was nine, my dad had a house built on the island and then he got a boat, so you can go out and catch fish to eat From then on we spent the whole summer on the island That sounds amazing but this little house, I always say to him, it had no television So, there was a whole summer on an island with no television This of course is the Isle of Berk The Isle of Berk in the books and the movies Because this was the first place the Vikings came to when they invaded Great Britain They came to the West Coast of Scotland and it was the last place they lived >> How interesting >>I know. So, once upon a time, real Vikings would have lived on that island and Vikings believed that dragons really existed So, I started thinking, what if the Vikings were right? Maybe dragons really do exist and I played in the cage and tried to imagine what would dragons look like if they really existed >> That’s amazing What an amazing childhood So, tell me a little bit about your creative process when you write your books? >> Well, I know I’m writing about vikings and dragons But how do I make you feel that this world really exist? I’m now talking to you guys as writers as well How do I make these stories feel real? I always say that writing is like telling a really big lie Okay? A real stretch of a lie Yeah. The more detail you put into your lie and the more you base it on a tiny grain of truth, the more it comes alive in your reader’s head So, this goes for everything about writing Shut your eyes for a second and shut your eyes out there as well If I say, Gobber had a big red beard, can you see that beard in your head? If I say say, Gobber has a beard like exploding fireworks or Gobber has a beard like hedgehogs struck by lightning, do you see how you can see the beard a bit more closely? Because I’ve based it on something you can see, or you can touch, or you can smell, or you can hear >> Definitely. Yes >> Yeah. So, the five senses, or something that is true There is a posh word for this, which is research It sound so boring, but is in fact so exciting Base your story on things that are true and even if it’s a fantasy, it will make things come alive So for instance, draw a map I would often say draw a map of your imaginary place, that will give you an idea for a story So, for instance, there was a writer called, you know book called Treasure Island? >> Yes. Absolutely >> Yeah, and that writer said before he’d even thought of the idea for a story he drew the map of Treasure Island As he drew the map, the pirates came creeping out of the map at him; Long John Silver, his cutlass between his teeth So, drawing the map gave him the idea for a story, that’s making something that isn’t true seem true, making the life, all those great story started I often go into schools and say, “Draw a map of your imaginary place and write a story about it,” is a really good >> Yeah, that’s good exercise >> Or you might go on to the computer and lookup Vikings, things about Vikings, and then it might give you an idea You might discover Vikings discovered America way before Christopher Columbus and you think, that gives me an idea for one of the books, the story line in one of the books >> I know that you’ve inspired many kids to create their own characters and use details Can you show us some of your favorites that kids have shared with you and why you think they work so well? >> I love it when kids send in their own dragons or their own characters Kids are the most imaginative people in the world

>> Yes >> We’ve got to get them writing So, I love it when you send in your ideas for dragons I want to show you how this kid, and she’s drawing the dragons, how she’s making them come alive by the way that she’s drawing them So, here she said, “The winter dragon is the breed name They look like bronchus and they smell like candy floss.” Do you see how by the way she’s describing them, she’s bringing them alive? Yeah. So, think about that when you’re doing your drawings or writing about your characters, see how you can make them come alive in your reader’s head >> Yeah, and that’s so neat for them to have, because that can spark even other ideas >> Yes, and then they might write their own stories about those characters >> Just written here. That’s so special. Friendships are also a big part of your stories >> Yeah >> Your main character Hiccup is an unlikely hero and his best friend Fishlegs gets bullied quite a bit But I love how Hiccup relies on the friendship and his intelligence to get him out of sticky situations So, tell us how you think about characters and relationships in your stories >> I mean, he is an unlikely hero, Hiccup He’s trying to be like his dad, but he’s not like his dad, is he? His dad is this really tough Viking, who’s much more about brawn and about being physical, and Hiccup is kinda small and skinny and very clever One of the things kids write to me most actually about is about being bullied and the experience That’s a big worry for kids >> Yeah >> So, I write about, cover that, a lot in my books Hiccup’s best friend Fishlegs actually is being bullied a lot, and Hiccup has to stand up against the bullies to defend his friend, Fishlegs In making that happen, I’m trying to say to kids, if you stand up for your friend in the classroom, you’re being a hero right here, right now Because in the end of the books and in the movies, Hiccup has to stand up against his whole world The dragons are being captured and enslaved, and Hiccup has to stand up and say, “That’s wrong, dragons should be wild.” >> Well, I know we appreciate those stories So, characters like that, that kids can look up to and they can read about, that’s an empowering thing for them >> The kids often write to me and they say, “I’m finding it difficult to fit in,” and they say Hiccup means a lot to them because he’s the kind of hero who’s a bit different But in the end, everybody realizes that Hiccup has something to offer, he has something very important to offer He very clever and he thinks his way out of problems >> That’s wonderful >> Yeah >> It’s a great message I have so many questions for you, but there’s lots of kids around the world that have great questions too >> All around the world >> Yeah >> Yes, and that’s great >> Let’s find out what they’re most curious about >> Hi, my name is Boyd and I’m from Malaysia I love Hiccup and Toothless from, How to Train Your Dragon Can you show us how to draw them? Thank you >> Oh, yes. I’ll show you how to draw them Okay, everybody out there Maybe get your paper, get your pens, get your colors, and I’ll show you how to draw Hiccup and Toothless right now Are you ready? I’m going to draw book Toothless and Hiccup magically in the air here Okay. I’m going to start with Toothless This is toothless in the book, who’s a very naughty, little, hunting dragon So, as I’m drawing him, I’m thinking about how naughty he is Sometimes I’m even making a naughty expression as I’m doing it You see how his eyebrows are going up like that When I’m thinking about that, I’m making him look naughty as I do it Yeah, he’s like how you would imagine a dragon would be, just quite a lot smaller; Toothless So, this is a bit I suppose, a bit like a lizard or something like that But he’s also a little bit like a cat I don’t know if you’ve noticed that in the movies as well He’s a little bit like a cat, because he was based on my cats, Lily and Balou, that I had when I was bringing up my children Here he is and he is sitting on Hiccup’s head So, here we are. There he is doing all the spines Here is Hiccup Viking helmet here, it’s just a triangle for the Viking helmet

Hiccup is underneath thinking, “Oh, no What’s he going to do next?” So, he’s got a slightly worried expression, Hiccup in this picture. There he is Then I do some slightly wild marks for Hiccup’s waistcoat, fur waistcoat So, there they are, Hiccup and Toothless That’s how to draw them Well, there you go. Now, you know how to draw Hiccup and Toothless >> That was so much fun All the kids I’m sure loved that, I know that I did That was a great question from Boyd Let’s hear from another student >> Hello, my name is Marley-May, and I’m in year five, and I live in Wales, UK My question today is, what was it like seeing your book become a movie? Thank you >> That’s such a great question It was amazing I love the films of How to Train Your Dragon They’re just wonderful and the third one is out now So, go and catch it, it’s just marvelous I love it because, although in some ways the books and the films are different, they’re true to the spirit of what I was trying to write about This is the film Toothless and this is the book Toothless This one’s handmade by the way They’re different because in the books, he’s small, the hunting dragon, Toothless, and in the movies he’s much bigger Because that’s the thing, books and films are different things In a movie, you want your hero to be able to ride on the back of a dragon right from the first movie In the books, he doesn’t ride on the back of the dragon until book 7, I think So, books and films are different things but they true to the spirit of the books I love film toothless just as much as I love book Toothless >> That’s wonderful I want to switch gears for a minute and talk about your new book series, The Wizards of Once Was it hard after 12 books in the Viking land to say goodbye to Toothless and Hiccup and switch gears and write about new characters, who are wizards, witches, and full of magic? >> Well, it was because I loved the dragon world So, saying goodbye to something is quite hard, isn’t it, if you love the characters But I suppose what I found out in doing that is endings are just the beginning to another new and glorious adventure Because I thought, what can I write about that I love as much as I love dragons and How to Train Your Dragon? >> So, I thought up something, magic I love magic I love the idea As a kid, I really wanted to be magic, and so I thought I’ll write about this world and I discovered, after I’d been writing it for a bit, I fell in love with that world just as much as I had done How to Train Your Dragon >> That is so interesting So, what inspired you to write the Wizards of Once? >> Well, I started with this idea of a kid who was magic, a kid being magic, because I always wanted to be Did you want to be magic when you were a kid? >> Absolutely >> Absolutely. What magical power would you have? >> Probably to be invisible or time travel. Yes >> Yes. So, many great magical powers Yeah, you could come back in time, you could teleport, you could read people’s minds, you could have fire coming out of your fingers Think of all the magical powers that you could have What magical power would you have? So, I started with that idea being magic, and then I started with an idea of two heroes from two very different worlds who were at war with each other So, I went back in time to the Bronze Ages, 3,000 years ago, when there really were magical things like giants and sprites The warriors and the wizards are fighting each other in the Bronze Age, and my girl hero, who’s a warrior, meets the boy hero, who’s a wizard Xar, the boy hero, has no magic but he’ll do anything to get it, and Wish has a secret which is she is secretly magic It’s about what happens when these two heroes meet, and can they see things from each other’s point of view >> I can’t wait to read it So, now let’s hear from another student, Paige, in the United States >> Hi, Cressida. My name is Paige and I’m in third grade, and I’m from the United States I struggle on spelling and I am wondering if I can be an author like you. Thank you >> You most certainly can

I’m so glad you asked that question because at the end of the day, writing isn’t about your spelling or your handwriting, it’s about your ideas I don’t want a kid who struggles with the spelling and handwriting but has wonderful ideas to think that they can’t be an author In fact, I’ve started a new campaign Who would like this? It’s called free writing Friday Where you can do this at school, you can do this at home, 15 minutes to have a special book where you can write whatever you want So, you can write stories, you can draw little characters and make up things about them, you can write comic strips It’s all about having fun though You’ve got to write for fun and no teacher can mark this book So, it’s no rules, no marking, just fun I had a lovely teacher called Miss Mallows in year three, grade three, and she let me do free writing Friday I wanted to show you my free writing Friday when I was nine, about your age and you can see my spelling wasn’t very good either I spelled Cressida, Crissida and the handwriting is a little bit scribbly But I’m already writing stories about magic I’m writing stories about magic and I’m drawing pictures of sprites, I’m making up my own fairies and sprites and magical characters This is exactly what turned into The Wizards of Once, my latest book series, which is all about magic and setting a world really full of magic You can see the book, this is my free writing Friday book which turned into The Wizards of Once I’m still keeping books like this This is the spelling book and in here I wrote all my ideas and started the story You can see here that this, the handwriting is really quite scribbly. That doesn’t matter It’s about getting out the ideas and here I’m going through, yes, and I’m beginning to draw pictures of the characters These are some very scary characters, the witches who are in the book and these are the wild wizards all set in the wild It’s coming to life as I’m drawing it This is one of the most important characters here My first drawings This is my first ever drawings of Wish, who is the wizard who has magical powers in the book and she’s gotten an eye patch Even though this is the bronze ages I happen to know Wish is dyslexic which is a thing where you find spelling difficult but Wish is the writer in the stories She is the writer So, that’s what I am trying to say is that at the end of the day, it’s all about your ideas and the magic of creativity Wish has very very strong magical powers >> Now, I can’t wait to read about Wish This is wonderful So, do you still write in this book? >> Yes, I do. And that’s what I say, that find a book like this and write all your ideas >> It’s beautiful >> That’s how you build up a world >> It’s probably one of your prize possessions, to have that That is so great Now, we have one more question >> Okay >> Hello, Mrs. Cressida My name is Clay I’m in grade four at HIP Academy I’m from Kenya My question is, how do you come up with your character? >> What a great question I often base characters on people I know So, you remember I talked about Wish, she’s a little bit like me because I struggled with spelling and handwriting when I was Wish’s age Or a character like Stoick is very like my father So, again, I take true things I loved my father so much but I wasn’t a bit like him and I put the true feelings that I have admiring somebody very much but not being like him in into my books Then they show to take on a life of their own I don’t know how it works >> I think that’s one of the neatest things though I love seeing my students develop their characters They do it on paper or sometimes even now on an app or something digital and it’s so neat to see them though develop those characters >> And, drawing things Drawing a character you can come up with an idea for a character but actually drawing it as you say it really brings it to life >> To see them come to life I love that Well those are some really great and thoughtful questions from our kids and I’m so glad >> Kids have the best question >> I know and I can’t wait to go home and share those with my kids and Van Meter, too Are there any final thoughts that you want to leave with us today? >> Well, I would just want to say go out there and write Just write and read as well because it gives you ideas for stories and get your mom and dad to read to

you way beyond the age that you can read for yourselves, just 10 minutes a day Say read to me, please read to me because that gives you ideas for stories Practice as much as you can and don’t worry too much in some places about the handwriting just do it for the fun of it And go and play outside. Play outside. My books are about adventures in the outside, by the sea or in woods Try and play and then make up stories about those places, the outside places that you can >> Bring your notebook with you >> Bring your notebook with you >> As you go outside >> Happy creating >> I love all of that great advice Before we end we want to give you a chance to take a selfie with Cressida Educators and families get your cameras ready and everyone gather around the screen in your classroom or at home and we’d love to see all of you watching If your teacher or family members want to post your selfies on Twitter, we’ll give you a minute to get set up >> [inaudible] [Music playing] Ready? Let’s take some selfies Cressida, I’m going to have you count down for us >> Okay, three, two, one, dragons [MUSIC] >> Well, I’ve got so many books, I can’t wave [MUSIC] >> That was so much fun We’d love to see your class selfies with Cressida So, please post them on Twitter to #Skype2learn Cressida, thank you so much for being here with us and inspiring the next generation of storytellers like yourself >> Well, children are the most imaginative people in the world >> They sure are and I can’t wait to take these stories back to my school and I can’t wait to hear and see too online what our kids do with this Thank you so much for joining us for this global event Educators, if you love live learning experiences, your students can connect with authors, scientists, and other experts, play mystery Skype or go on virtual field trips throughout the entire year through Skype in the Classroom Thank you so much for being here today Thanks again Cressida for teaching us how to build new worlds and spark our imagination On behalf of Skype in the classroom, as well as Little Brown young readers, and our author, Cressida Cowell, thanks for watching and we’ll see you next time