Author Profile: Cressida Cowell

Today I am featuring another of our favorite authors, Cressida Cowell. She is a British writer/illustrator who write picture books and chapter books. Her wonderful sense of humor and whimsy have earned her books (and the movies made from them!) international recognition. While her wry sense of humor shines through each of her books, I find them quite diverse.

You may know Ms. Cowell from the Hiccup the Viking series, most notably How to Train Your Dragon. However, she is also the author of one of my children’s (and mine) favorite characters, Emily Brown.

Her books range from board books for toddlers (What Shall We Do with the Boo-hoo Baby?) to picture books for the 3-8 year old range. Her Dragon books are longer and more complex, and therefore may appeal to the 7-9 year old target audience.

Our favorite Cressida Cowell books are:
Cressida Cowell BooksThat Rabbit Belongs to Emily BrownEmily Brown and the ThingEmily Brown and the Elephant Emergency

That Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown is the clear favorite, but we have read all of the Emily Brown books multiple times. Read my previous reviews here and here. In the case of How to Train Your Dragon, we did the reverse of our normal approach and discovered the book after enjoying the movie. I also found a copy of How to Be a Viking (a picture book introduction to Hiccup) at our library, which also came with an audio companion CD with extra story elements read in a lovely Scottish brogue. Check it out if you can find it!

Some other books from this author that I have not yet read: Claydon Was a Clingy Child, Super Sue at Super School, Little Bo Peep’s Library Book, and Don’t Do That Kitty Kilroy. I also haven’t read past the first How to Train Your Dragon book, but my kids and I may in the future!

What is your favorite Cressida Cowell book? Please share in the comments!

Review: Emily Brown and the Thing

ImageEmily Brown and the Thing

Written by: Cressida Cowell

Illustrated By: Neal Layton

Orchard Books, 2007, Paperback Edition

Target Audience: Ages 3-8

Genre: Fiction

Theme: Bedtime

How We Discovered This Book: My kids and I absolutely loved That Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown, another book by Cressida Cowell. You can check out my previous review. I had heard there were other Emily Brown books, so at Christmas time I went searching for them. I discovered 3 more! In addition to Emily Brown and the Thing, there is Cheer Up Your Teddy Bear, Emily Brown, and Emily Brown and the Elephant Emergency.


Emily Brown and her trusty stuffed rabbit Stanley are trying to sleep. But the Thing has other plans. He makes all kinds of noises, and the only way to get him to be quiet is to help him. He needs his cuddly, his bedtime milk, his medicine… will he ever go to sleep?

What I Liked:

This resonated on a variety of levels, for both me and my kids. Emily is not scared of the Thing. She is brave and in charge (as always), taking on each challenge with a smile. In the end, she even tucked him into bed (under her bed, no less). The whole story reminded me of my children, and the “needs” they come up with to stall going to bed.

What Did My Kids Think?

They thought the book was funny and creative. They love Emily’s imagination- she didn’t just find his medicine, she put on her special glasses, climbed through the Witches’ Cavern, and told the witches stories in exchange for the medicine. And her answer to the Thing when he says his leg itches is just priceless (and familiar?)


Hatchette Children’s Books has free activity downloads for Emily Brown, including a door hanger and idea prompts.

Review: That Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown

This week I thought I’d share one of my children’s all time favorites. It may be a little hard to find, but I found it at both my library and through used book sellers.

That Rabbit Belongs to Emily BrownThat Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown

Written By: Cressida Cowell

Illustrated By: Neal Layton

Orchard Books, 2007, Hardcover Version

Target Audience: Ages 3-7

Genre: Fiction

How We Discovered This Book

I happened to borrow this book from our library based on the cover art, and my children and I fell in love with it. I tracked down a used copy for our home library.


Emily Brown goes everywhere with her bunny, Stanley. They have all kinds of adventures: in space, in the Amazon rain forest, and many other places. The Queen decides she wants a toy as nice as Stanley. In fact, she wants Emily Brown’s bunny. Now.

What I Liked

The story is told with much creativity and humor. The illustrations not only complement the story, they have many additional details waiting for a perceptive child to find. The writing is so tight and critical to the story, you feel as if Ms. Cowell chose every word very carefully. There are no extra words in this story, but it doesn’t feel spare, either. We quickly know what Emily Brown is all about without much text.

What Did My Son Aidan Think?

Both my son and my daughter love this book. We currently read it at bedtime 3-5 times a week. They each have their favorite parts that they recite during the storytelling. Aidan’s favorite part (and mine) is when Emily Brown corrects the Queen’s military men, sent to get the bunny: “This rabbit is NOT for sale. And his name is NOT Bunnywunny. It’s Stanley.” My daughter loves when the men offer Emily ten talking dolls that say “Mama, Mama.”


If you enjoy this book too, and would like have more fun with it, here are some resources to check out:

Lesson Plans (Lesson 2)

Emily Brown Activity Sheets

Discussion Topics