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Nickerbacher, the funniest dragon

Children/Young Adult; General Fiction (including literary and historical); (Publish)

A dragon named Nickerbacher guards a princess because his papa told him to. However, he practices his jokes on Princess Gwendolyn, as he yearns to be a stand-up comedian. The young dragon gets up the nerve to tell his papa about his aspirations and is told an unequivocal no.

When Prince Happenstance shows up for the princess he expects to battle a ferocious dragon but Nickerbacher chooses to slay him with jokes instead of flames. The opponents manage to find common ground and Nickerbacher leaves for the big city to pursue his dream.

Nickerbacher learns that the road to success is sometimes bumpy. When he finally goes on stage for his big debut, the curtain goes up and he realizes he's truly been bitten by the performance bug. When the curtain comes down, Nickerbacher discovers he has a proud papa who loves him no matter what.

Kirkus Reviews

In Barto (Gollywood, Here I Come!, 2014) and Sponaugle’s children’s picture book, 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—a dragon named Nickerbacher who’s guarding an imprisoned princess “because his papa told him to.” As he does so, however, he practices his jokes on her, as he yearns to be a stand-up comedian. Most of them involve clever wordplay: “Why did it take me forever to cross the road?…Because I’m always a-draggin.” Just as Gwendolyn tells him that he must pursue what gives him pleasure, the authors show woodland animals fleeing in terror as Papa Dragon approaches. The young dragon tells his father about his dream and is sternly reminded of his dragonly duty. That afternoon, Prince Happenstance arrives to rescue the princess and repeatedly challenges Nickerbacher to fight after the dragon calls him “Prince Fancypants.” Instead, Nickerbacher torches some nearby trees. Soon, Happenstance admits his squelched desire to be a baseball player, and the opponents realize their common ground. Later, in the city, Nickerbacher finds the courage to step onstage for his first comedy act. It will be hard for readers not to laugh along as they see the audience’s delighted, upturned faces. Later, after receiving his father’s approval, the dragon tells one last joke: “You know what happened to the dragon whose dream came true? He lived happily ever after.” The text of this book is full of body language and voice cues and, as a result, often begs to be read aloud, such as when the princess tells Nickerbacher, “You’d make a great comedian.” “Nickerbacher looked over his shoulder. ‘Don’t let my papa hear that.’ ” The book’s expressive, jewel-toned illustrations also pack an emotional punch. Overall, this dramatic story about a dragon stand-up comedian will likely entertain readers of all ages.

A well-illustrated dragon tale that may help bridge the gap between young and old readers.

Mom's Choice Award- Gold

Nickerbacher, The Funniest Dragon is a recipient of the prestigious Mom’s Choice Award. The Mom’s Choice Awards® (MCA) evaluates products and services created for parents and educators and is globally recognized for establishing the benchmark of excellence in family-friendly media, products and services. Using a rigorous evaluation process, entries are scored on a number of elements including production quality, design, educational value, entertainment value, originality, appeal and cost. Around the world, parents, educators, retailers and members of the media trust the MCA Honoring Excellence seal when selecting quality products and services for families and children.

Story Monster Approved

Nickerbacher, The Funniest Dragon is Story Monster Approved. Five Star Publications, Inc.’s prestigious “Story Monsters’ award honors extraordinary authors in the field of children’s literature. Books that are Story Monster approved receive this special designation because they inspire, inform, teach or entertain, adhering to rigorous standards of excellence. Nominated books must pass through an evaluation conducted by industry experts, and be endorsed by a panel of youth judges.  Only then can a book receive the official Story Monster seal of approval.