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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Nickerbacher: The Funniest Dragon is a fantasy for children, grades K-3, written by Terry John Barto and illustrated by Kim Sponaugle. Nickerbacher was a young dragon who didn’t feel that his job of guarding Princess Gwendolyn in her tower was what he should be doing with his life. He really liked to tell jokes, which he did all of the time, and he wanted to be a stand-up comedian. Gwendolyn liked his jokes and thought he should follow his dreams and become a comic, but Nickerbacher was worried about what his father would think. His father believed that all dragons should guard princesses, and he placed Gwendolyn under Nickerbacher’s care. When a young prince rode up to see the princess, Nickerbacher knew he was supposed to scare him away, but Nickerbacher really only wanted to tell him jokes.
Terry John Barto’s children’s fantasy picture book, Nickerbacher: The Funniest Dragon, features a very unusual dragon who sees humor and wit as his weapons, and who wants to do stand-up comedy. He has to find the courage to first tell his very frightening father what he wants to do with his life, and then to appear before an audience as a stand-up comic for the first time. The positive and inspiring message of this story is driven home in a hilarious way through the young dragon’s inability to do anything else but make jokes. Kim Sponaugle’s pen and ink drawings have gloriously colorful washes that make this story larger than life, a fitting thing indeed for a tale about dragons. The characters’ expressions are fabulous, especially Nickerbacher, whose bushy eyebrows are exceptional. Adults will have a marvelous time reading this story and sharing the pictures during storytelling sessions, but it’s also a great book for young readers. Nickerbacher: The Funniest Dragon is most highly recommended.