How to Train Your Dragon author wows young crowds at city book launch

Author'Cressida Cowell with fans, Nikhil Sen, Charlie Nicholls and Eddie Atkins 'Picture : Habibur Rahman
Author'Cressida Cowell with fans, Nikhil Sen, Charlie Nicholls and Eddie Atkins 'Picture : Habibur Rahman
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YOUNGSTERS united as a top children’s author launched her latest book.

Scores of young people and their parents met Cressida Cowell on Tuesday night as she unveiled The Wizards of Once – her latest work.

The writer – known across the world for her 12-book series-turned-blockbuster movie, How to Train Your Dragon – provided an inspiring talk before meeting eager readers and signing their copies of her new book at Portsmouth Grammar School’s David Russell Theatre.

Isla Brown, eight, went along with her mum, Kelly, after she won a pair of tickets to the event – organised in partnership with The Hayling Island Bookshop – in a News competition.

Isla said: ‘I loved the event and I had an amazing time. I can’t believe I got to meet my favourite author in real life.

‘I can’t wait to start reading the new book. I’m going to ask my grandad to read it out loud to me and my sister so we can all enjoy the magic together.’

In her new book, Cressida Cowell transports readers to the magically-adapted Sussex South Downs – which she frequented as a child – where they follow the journey of a boy wizard named Xar who has no magic.

Speaking about the release of The Wizards of Once, Cressida said: ‘It’s nerve-wracking writing a news series after eighteen years, but I am very excited.

‘I set The Wizards of Once in an Iron Age full of magical creatures including giants, sprites, wizards, warriors and witches.

‘In many ways, there are similar themes to How to Train Your Dragon, so I think kids who enjoyed that will also like this – there’s a lot about the value of creativity, empathy and leadership.’

Cressida said fans can also expect to see her new book hit the big screen – with aspirations of it following in the successful footsteps of How to Train Your Dragon.

She said: ‘DreamWorks Animation have already acquired The Wizards of Once which is very, very exciting. The next How to Train Your Dragon film is coming out in 2019 and The Wizards of Once will come out in 2021. It’s a while, but it takes some time to make a top notch animation.’

Colin Telford, manager of The Hayling Island Bookshop – which is already selling lots of copies of Cressida’s new book – said: ‘Cressida was sparkling. She touched on her book’s connection with her childhood and signed lots of copies after her talk. Every young reader got a dragon stamp on their hand or in their book too – it was so well-received.’