“It doesn’t matter what I think. It’s what you know in your heart that matters,” Nickerbacher is told in Terry John Barto’s children’s book, Nickerbacher: The Funniest Dragon.
This thirty-four-page oversized paperback targets children ages five to eight years old. With no scary or awkward scenes, the book is about a dragon that wants to become a comedian. The full-page, full-color illustrations by Sponaugle are colorful and engaging, following the storyline with interesting details. A separate eight-page activity book that can be downloaded has a maze, map, word scramble, door hangar, author’s biography, answer key, order game, and picture to color.
In this story that promotes setting goals, a green and blue dragon’s mission in life is to protect a princess according to his father. But the dragon named Nickerbacher would rather tell jokes and be a comedian.
When the non-aggressive dragon tells Princess Gwendolyn his dream of entertaining on the stage, she supports his wishes and urges him to speak to his father. But before the large beast has time to talk to his papa, Prince Happenstance appears, wanting to take the princess away from her guarded tower.
With Nickerbacher’s job to protect Gwendolyn, instead of killing the newcomer with his fiery flames that spew out of his mouth, he begins a conversation with the prince that includes jokes. Initially the prince taunts him, expecting a duel, but the placid, peaceful dragon would rather make the young man laugh.
In time, the prince conveys that he would rather be an athlete than a prince who slays dragons. Nickerbacher has his dreams come true when he performs comedy on a live stage, telling the audience more of his quirky, corny jokes.
Although the story contains several jokes that five-year-olds may not comprehend, it does show how setting a goal and accomplishing a lifetime dream can bring happiness. Including the online extra activity book helps children remember the story and think about goals and dreams.
Director and choreographer of more than two hundred theater productions, Barto is also an author and creative director living in Southern California with his two dogs. Illustrator Sponaugle graduated from the Art Institute of Philadelphia and has illustrated over fifty children’s books.
Thanks to The Book Club Network and the author for furnishing this complimentary book in exchange for a review based on the reviewer’s honest opinion.
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GRAMMARLY was used to check for errors in this review.