Title: Nickerbacher, The Funniest Dragon | Author: Terry John Barto | Illustrator: Kim Sponaugle | Publication Date: January 21, 2015 | Publisher: AuthorHouse | Pages: 34 | Recommended Ages: 4 to 10 | Reviewed by: Renee and Dominic (Mother and Son)
Summary: Dragons are magical. Some are ferocious, some are friendly, and some are silly, but whatever kind of dragon it is, we love reading about them and their incredible adventures. Nickerbacher is a very special dragon. He wants to make his family proud of him, but he doesn’t want to be like all the other dragons. He’s afraid to tell his papa that there are enough dragons to guard princesses.
Will Nickerbacher abide by his dragonly duty or follow his dream of being a stand-up comedian?”
Nickerbacher, The Funniest Dragon is the winner of the coveted Purple Dragonfly Book Award, National Parenting Publications Award, Family Review Center Gold Award, Mom’s Choice Gold Award and is Story Monster Approved.
Author House * Amazon * B&N * Book Depository * Goodreads
1. What is the book about? The book is about a dragon who has to guard a princess but he wants to be a stand-up comedian. At first, his Dad doesn’t want him to, but when he starts being one, they are ok with it and are proud of him.
2. What do you think of the book cover and the images inside the book? The pictures are really good and funny. My favorite one is the one at the very back which shows “Nickerbacher on Tour” and shows where Nickerbacher is performing each month, like “Funny Fortress”, “House of Ha Ha”, and the “Giggle Gallery”.
3. What are your favorite parts of the book? I like it when Nickerbacher becomes a comedian because he is following his dream that he’s been wanting a long time. I liked it when the dragon called the Prince, (whose real name is “Prince Happenstance”), Prince Fancypants. That was funny.
4. Were there parts that didn’t make sense? I didn’t quite get the joke that went “How do you like this new floor? It’s reinforced ’cause during rehearsal, it cracked.” My Mom had to explain it.
5. Do you know any good jokes? What do you call a dog that talks on the phone all day? Highlight between the quotation marks for the answer. “A collie“.
6. What is the lesson learned in the story? The lesson is to follow your dreams because that is what will make you happy.
7. Overall, what did you think about the book and how many stars would you give it? The book was really good and funny. The pictures were fun to look at. I would give it 4 stars.
8. Who do you think would like this book? I would recommend this book to boys and girls around my age (5 to 10) and kids who like dragons.
My Thoughts: We are introduced to Nickerbacher as he dutifully guards the princess from harm because, as we learn, that’s what dragons do. But his heart is not into it. He would much rather bring laughter into people’s lives by being a stand-up comedian. Nickerbacher quickly grows despondent as his father scoffs at his dreams and tells him in no uncertain terms that “You’re not supposed to make people laugh; you’re supposed to scare them.”
That same day, Prince Happenstance/Fancypants, approaches the castle ready to do battle for the princess. Following a dismal attempt to frighten off the suitor and with support and encouragement from the Prince and Princess, Nickerbacher realizes he must pursue his dream. After much practice and preparation, he finally gets his big break at the Comedy Castle. Nickerbacher fulfills his dream of performing and he is surprise to learn that his biggest fans are in the audience, cheering him on.
Nickerbacher (great name!) is a wonderful character that any child (or adult for that matter) nervous about stepping outside their comfort zone to pursue a dream will be able to relate to. Children may often be told by other children, parents, teachers, or others that they cannot do something either because they are too small, too young, not talented enough, or simply because they are not supposed to. Messages such as these create self-doubt and will often cripple a child into non-action, leaving them feeling unfulfilled. Nickerbacher, The Funniest Dragon is a celebration of having the strength and courage to push aside your fears and doubts to pursue your dreams.
The author, Terry John Barto, effectively draws in the reader by introducing Nickerbacher as he morosely guards the princess and then shifting the mood and tone of the story as we witness the princess encouraging Nickerbacher to pursue his dream; the father dragon angrily reminding his son that he must do his duty; to the scenes with the Prince providing comic relief; to Nickerbacher nervously taking the stage; to the reaction by his parents near the end of the book. I felt emotionally invested in the story as Nickerbacher experienced the highs and lows of his personal journey.
The illustrations are all bright, colorful, and detailed. Kids will love flipping the pages just to look at the pictures and adults, in particular will appreciate Nickerbacher’s “Groucho Marx” eyebrows!
While many of the jokes are sure to be enjoyed by children and adults alike, (“Why did it take me forever to cross the road?” Highlight between the quotations to reveal the answer: “Because I’m always a-draggin.“), I agree with my son about the sequence of jokes in the comedy club getting off to a rough start. I also understand that this is precisely how it goes in real life, but for a children’s book, I think the first joke was a bit off. I would recommend that parents read the sequence to themselves prior to reading it aloud to their children because it is all in the delivery!
My Bottom Line: Nickerbacher, The Funniest Dragon is a wonderful picture book featuring a relatable main character in the dragon, Nickerbacher as well as a host of unique secondary characters; colorful, kid-friendly illustrations; many humorous and poignant moments; and, an important underlying message about setting aside your fears and self-doubt to pursue your dreams. I recommend this book to children ages 5 to 10.
* This book was provided to me by the author through our Editorial Review service in exchange for our honest reviews. All opinions expressed are our own. *
Download the “Nickerbacher” Activity Kit Here
You can download an activity kit for Nickerbacher, The Funniest Dragon which includes a maze, coloring page, word scramble, door hanger and more! Just click on the map below.
About the Author: Terry John Barto
Terry John Barto is a director and choreographer of 200+ regional theater productions, industrials, television, and cruise ship shows throughout the United States and abroad. As creative director for Wings of Dreams Productions, he honed diverse ideas into compelling stories, wrote screenplays for animation features, and inspired a team of artists to develop dolls and action figures.
He lives in Los Angeles, California and enjoys Pilates, Yoga, and hiking with his dachshunds, Hunter and Mazie. Terry John Barto is also the author of Gollywood, Here I Come! For more information, please go to gollywoodhereicome.com
*** GIVEAWAY ***
Prize: One winner (US only) will receive a signed print copy of Nickerbacher, The Funniest Dragon by Terry John Barto. One winner (Canada & Internationally) will receive an electronic copy (Kindle or Nook) of the book.
Giveaway ends: July 14, 11:59 pm, 2015
Open to: Internationally
How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.
Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. The winners will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If a winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Terry John Barto and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.