Find out the latest indie author news. For FREE.

Paperback Book Details
  • 12/2016
  • 9781944878276 1944878270
  • 55 pages
  • $6.99
Nickerbacher is a dragon and aspiring comedian who travels to La La Land to audition for The Late Knight Show. Hoping to prove to his father - and the world - that dragons can be funny. Nickerbacher befriends a prince and a princess who help him realize his dream while paving the way for equal rights of all citizens.
Angela - The Inspirational Edit

Nickerbacher A Fantastic Kids Book

Today I’m sharing a fantastic children’s book called Nickerbacher written by Terry John Barto and Illustrated by Kim Sponaugle. Sylvia and I really enjoyed reading this story and I’m sure you will too.

Nickerbacher is a fantastic kids book about a Dragon who’s dream is to become a Comedian and audition for the Late Night show in La La Land. The story is easy to read and filled with fantastic illustrations of Nickerbacher and Princess Gwendolyn his loyal friend who helps him on his quest to follow his dreams.

The story is divided into 6 easy to read chapters. I think the book is fun and a great story, it teaches a great moral to follow your dreams and become who you want to rather than conforming to what your told you should be.

Nickerbacher, in my opinion would be a great story for both boys and girls. The characters are fun and the comedian in Nichabacher shines through in the text and have a few great jokes and interesting new words.

The book reminds me a little of Roald Dahl as the author has created a fair few “new words” which are fun to read and keep the story interesting and original.

I really enjoyed reading this lovely book with my daughter. It’s different to the books we would usually go for but was just as fun and an enjoyable read.

I love that Nickerbacher is a modern day fairy tale and it mixes old-fashioned character names with modern day living such as the dream to go on the “Late night show”. I think the modern twist on this story makes it a real winner for me and Sylvia and makes the book really different and unique. It is certainly a fun read and one I would recommend for children around 5 to 10.

To sum up Nickerbacher is a fantastic fairy tale with a modern day twist.

BlueInk Review

Expanding on Terry John Barto’s original picture book (Nickerbacher: The Funniest Dragon), this chapter book offers young readers a rich, imaginative tale about dreaming big, friendship, and overcoming oppression.

Nickerbacher, as readers learned in the first book, is not a typical dragon. He isn’t satisfied with simply guarding a princess, even though he guards his friend and champion, Princess Gwendolyn. He longs to be a comedian, and news that the popular TV show, The Late Knight Show, is hosting open auditions is the chance he’s been waiting for. With the help of a bumbling but kind Prince Happenstance, the friends set off for La La Land to make Nickerbacher’s dream come true.

Chapter books allow for more narrative detail than picture books, and Barto embraces the opportunity with the same vigor and humor Nickerbacher demonstrates at every turn. Readers are offered more tantalizing details about the magical inhabitants of La La Land (including a phoenix secretary and a leprechaun comedy coach) and spend more time with the dragon, his feisty princess, and their “Fancypants” prince. The lively black-and-white illustrations are the perfect companion to Barto’s smart, wacky humor.

Nickerbacher will keep kids giggling while the message of determination, kindness, and acceptance settles in. Kids will not only learn the ingredients of good comedy (“Great comedy always has…truth and heart,” and “name calling isn’t very funny”), they’ll recognize the magic of friendship in the dragon’s relationships. Together, Nickerbacher’s friends not only help him resist the ongoing repression of dragon rights, they encourage him to stand up for himself and what he believes in.

Barto’s chapter book is a rollicking celebration of hope that will excite readers with its rich, magical vocabulary, inventive storyline, and—of course—the laugh-out-loud antics of a silly, starry-eyed dragon.

Ellen Feld

Nickerbacher the dragon dreams of being a stand-up comedian. The problem is that everybody knows dragons aren't comedians...their job is to protect princesses from princes. What will Nickerbacher do?

Nickerbacher's job is to protect Princess Gwendolyn from any and all princes who may come her way. She lives in a tall tower, and spends each day talking with the dragon. Over time, they become good friends and share their dreams and hopes with each other. Nickerbacher's dream is to appear on "The Late Knight Show" as a comedian. The problem is (actually there are several problems) that the show films in La La Land, a place far away from the tower. Then there's the dragon's father who doesn't want to hear anything about comedy - dragons simply do not do comedy. Nickerbacher is not happy and Gwendolyn wants to help.

One day a prince comes along to try and save the princess from the dangerous, nasty dragon. Boy is that prince in for a surprise! The prince quickly learns that Nickerbacher is not scary, and that he has a big dream and the princess would like the prince's help to get Nickerbacher to La La Land. It looks like the three friends are going on a trip!

The friends do make it to La La Land and Nickerbacher manages to get an audition for "The Late Knight Show." But when the audition doesn't go quite as planned, and his parents show up, Nickerbacher is afraid that his dream may not come true. Will his friends be able to help him achieve his dream?

This is author Terry John Barto's third children's book, and the second about the lovable dragon Nickerbacher. He has definitely found a niche that kids love - fun-loving dragons who reach for the stars. Nickerbacher tells lots of jokes; some good, some so bad they're funny, that will keep kids laughing. He has a problem that youngsters will be able to identify with - a parent who doesn't approve of his dream - that will keep them reading to see what happens. The story is light-hearted and funny throughout, and there are lots of black and white drawings to accompany the story. These drawings are reminiscent of a comic book style of drawing that adds a whole new level of fun to the story. Nickerbacher is simply a wonderful story for young readers.

Quill says: A delightful story about a dragon, a princess, a prince, and reaching for your dreams.

Sara Budzik\t

Terry John Barto’s Nickerbacher is an updated fairy tale about a friendly dragon guarding a princess that encourages being true to oneself and standing up for those who are different.

The familiar trope of a relationship between a princess and a dragon is given an original twist. Nickerbacher is a self-conscious dragon and the focus of his supportive princess friend’s attention. The princess isn’t a typical damsel in distress, either. Nickerbacher guards her from any princes who might annoy her. They are mutually bemused by the story of Sleeping Beauty, wondering, “Why would he kiss someone who’s sleeping?”

Nickerbacher’s father strongly feels that guarding a princess is a dragon’s place in life. But Nickerbacher would prefer to be a stand-up comedian on the Late Knight Show. With his princess and a new friend, Prince Happenstance, he travels to La La Land—a play on Los Angeles, where all of the fairy tale creatures live. Along the way he is reminded that comedy needs to be truthful and come from the heart. If he simply tells his story, people will like him. He struggles with his father’s disapproval and risks going against his “duty” to follow his dream.

This book is a delight, similar in look and feel to Peggy Parish books, with clever pen-and-ink-style illustrations that are perfectly suited to the text. In particular, full-page illustrations of La La Land expertly bend perspective and scale to translate the chaos of so many characters in one vibrant city.

Each chapter is a well-defined step in Nickerbacher’s journey, and each character is a nod to the fantasy lexicon. In La La Land the dragon finds a leprechaun acting coach, Santa and his elves attend Nickerbacher’s big show, and the rising Miss Phoenix materializes from the ashes to serve as the Late Knight Show receptionist.

The story and its classical literary and cultural references are woven together harmoniously. Nickerbacher takes a selfie in La La Land and fits his feet into the cement prints of movie stars. He struggles with respectfully defying his parents. His story is so relatable and endearing that it’s easy to forget that the dragon is supposed to be so different from everyone else. Therein lies the novel’s great success.

Nickerbacher is a playful, joyful story with a timeless, powerful message: be yourself and speak from your heart.

Sheelonee Banerjee

"Don't you want your children to grow up in a world where they're allowed to follow their dreams?"

Nickerbacher, the friendly dragon who guards Princess Gwendolyn, wants to be a comedian. Encouraged by his friends—Prince Happenstance and Princess Gwendolyn—he auditions for The Late Knight Show in La La Land. When the audience loves him, he proves to his father—and everyone else—that dragons can be funny and harmless.

Barto crafts a delightful story about following your dreams. Using the adorable dragon's journey—from telling bad jokes to speaking humorous truths—Barto captures the ambition and the determination to fulfill it, while daring to be different. As parental pressure portrayed through Nickerbacher's father threatens Nickerbacher's confidence, motivation comes through true friend Gwendolyn, the hilariously awkward Prince Happenstance, Coach Argyle, the leprechaun, and Nickerbacher's mother.

The charming illustrations by Kim Sponaugle enhance the innocent and comical aspects of the plot, inviting readers into a world inhabited by giants, trolls, pixies, unicorns, and elves. Simple language and relatable situations beautifully convey that in life, it takes courage to stand up to prejudices and obstacles. Though there are some mild echoes of Enid Blyton and Lewis Carroll in the narration, the soul of the story is original in its attempts to depict complicated truths in a casual, childlike way.

While Barto's timing of dialogues is perfect enough to evoke laughter, he cleverly upturns many conventional fairy tale themes in the story. These include a nervous prince, a feisty princess (who wears pajamas), a wise phoenix, and a Sphinx with a street stall. His decisions to stand up to his overbearing father and to promote a bias-free world make Nickerbacher an endearing symbol of inspiration and optimism for all children and adults who want to overcome fears and live their dreams. A light-hearted, visually delicious tale that promises a bear hug every time it's read.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

Author Terry John Barto's book aimed at small children is a glorious celebration

Like a cat has many lives, a dragon has too. All dragons aren't your fire breathing, stomping on princes type. Some have dreams, some want to go to La-La land and take up comedy as a career option. Los Angeles and Hollywood become magical places filled with equally magical creatures where our one of a kind dragon tries to make it big as a comedian by auditioning for the TV show The Late Knight Show. You get to experience the dreams, struggles, setbacks, insecurities, hard work and eventual success through the perspective of a dragon and his two friends, Princess Gwendolyn and her rescuer turned admirer Prince Happenstance.

This is a book aimed at helping children and families understand that it's okay to be yourself in this world. That we must always tell the truth and our honesty will get us far in life. It also teaches us never to be apologetic about ourselves or the differences in us that makes us unique. We mustn't try to just blend in and become another face in the crowd; we must strive for the best and always show our best side to the world. The book also address another important point – that of equal rights for all.

Nickerbacher by author and creative director Terry John Barto has some brilliant illustrations and is family-friendly. The book uses the character of Nickerbacher, a witty dragon who aspires to be a comedian to inspire children and their parents to go for their dreams in life, no matter how difficult or insurmountable it sounds at first.

Praise for the book –

"The story is one that is very familiar to all of us. From children in schools to adults in modern offices, you must have come across that one soul who just doesn't seem to fit in. They have dreams in their eyes and you know they would do so much better in some other sphere in life. Backed by exuberant and detailed illustrations, the book follows the journey of a dragon as he comes into his own by following his dream. The joyful and gradual transformation was a treat to read." – Boris. R, an Amazon reviewer

Suzette had this to say, "This was a precious story. The message that it's okay to stand up to your parents and convince them about your dreams to pursue something that you want in life was a good one. You can be good at something, even if other people think you are "different".

"I thought this was an adorable little book. It deserves to be a top-seller and I will read it to my kids one day." – A blogger

Barbara says, "Although written for small children, I know slightly older children will also be able to relate with the fears and insecurities of Nickerbacher. This was a wonderful book that can be revisited."

According to reviewer Alan, "I quite liked this book, and my children loved it as well. The black and white illustrations were amazing, they were nicely drawn!"

Kevin Peter of said that, "in spite of a strong message, the author's fine writing and depictions of slightly anthropomorphic animals living out human lives and fantasies made it a fun read."


A dragon pursues the dream of being a comedian; a princess supports his cause and protests for Dragon Rights; a prince struggles to maintain status in The Prince Guild.

Nickerbacher is a dragon and aspiring comedian who travels to La La Land to audition for The Late Knight Show. Hoping to prove to his father – and the world – that dragons can be funny. Nickerbacher befriends a prince and a princess who help him realize his dream while paving the way for equal rights of all citizens.

Just in time for the holidays is the early chapter edition of Nickerbacher. In this version, Princess Gwendolyn is his manager who enlists the help of Prince Happenstance and a Lucky Leprechaun. On Nickerbacher's journey to La La Land, he overcomes obstacles and persists in auditioning for the famed TV show host – Johnny Kingston. Along the way, he encounters magical characters, a zealous paparazzi, and develops a genuine camaraderie. But will he achieve Papa's acceptance?

Nickerbacher is based on the Award Winning Picture Book, Nickerbacher the Funniest Dragon, which is the winner of the Mom's Choice Gold Award, Purple Dragonfly Book Award, Royal Dragonfly Book Award, the National Parenting Publications Award, the Family Review Center Best of Year, Readers' Favorite International Book Award – Gold, First Place Writer's Digest Book Awards, BlueInk Review's Best Books of 2015, Children's Literary Classics Seal of Approval, CIPA EVVY Gold Award, and The Wishing Shelf Book Award.

"Barto, who also authored Gollywood, Here I Come!, has a knack for delivering giggles along with a positive message about being true to your heart. Nickerbacher's humor will delight young readers, and his struggle to find his way in the world by going against the dragon-norm is a charming spin on a common motif. For Nickerbacher, pursuing his dreams proves to have a positive impact on his family, further cementing the moral of the story as a hopeful one. Overall, Barto has delivered a fun, read-aloud worthy story deserving of a standing ovation." BlueInk Review

"A young dragon slays his captive princess, her prince and finally his own disapproving father–with laughter.

Young readers will identify with the sad-eyed main character from the start. The text of this book is full of body language and voice cues and, as a result, often begs to be read aloud. This dramatic story about a dragon stand-up comedian will likely entertain readers of all ages. A dragon tale that may help bridge the gap between young and old readers." Kirkus Reviews

Terry John Barto is an Award Winning author. Before writing children's books, he has crafted dances and musical staging for more than 200 productions throughout the United States and abroad. World premiere productions include Babes In Toyland at the Lincoln Center, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty for Shakespeare Santa Cruz. Terry staged long-running shows for Princess Cruises and a variety of his choreography has been seen on CBS' The Bold and the Beautiful.

As the Creative Director for Wings of Dreams Productions, he turned diverse ideas into screenplays for animation and toys. He has also written the children's picture book Gollywood, Here I Come! (Mom's Choice Award, Story Monster Approved).

Kim Sponaugle, created magical jewel_toned illustrations for Nickerbacher, The Funniest Dragon. She has created a stunning new look for Nickerbacher with line art and ink shading. Kim is a graduate or the Art Institute of Philadelphia, started Pictures Kitchen Studios in 2007 and since has illustrated over 50 books for kids. Pictures Kitchen Studios has been honored to receive numerous awards including Mom's Choice, Pinnacle Book Award, CIPA EVVY and Reader's Favorite Awards.

\We love reading children stories about dragons and their incredible adventures. Short stories for kids have never been so much fun with Nickerbacher's silly jokes. At the same time, his journey has inspired many and is already a classic picture book. This new, early chapter children's book that is certain to captivate and entertain.

Paperback Book Details
  • 12/2016
  • 9781944878276 1944878270
  • 55 pages
  • $6.99