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More About This Title Nickerbacher


Nickerbacher is a dragon and aspiring comedian who travels to La La Land to audition for The Late Knight Show. He hopes 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.


Nickerbacher's award winning author 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 fiction family 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.


Chapter One; The Dream page 1

Chapter Two: The Prince page 9

Chapter Three: The City page 21

Chapter Four: The Audition page 29

Chapter Five: The Coach page 37

Chapter Six: The Show page 45


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. 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. ~Foreword Clarion Reviews

Young children will delight in the imaginative story and delightful illustrations, and they will identify with Nickerbacher's longing to do something that may seem different to others. This is a good chapter book for 3rd-5th graders but younger children will enjoy having it read aloud to them. Nickerbacher by Terry John Barto is a delightful tale, sparkling with an imaginative world where dragons and princesses overcome real-world challenges. Wonderful book! ~JB McPhearson for Readers' Favorite

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

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.

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. ~BlueInk Reviews

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. ~Feathered Quill Book Reviews

The book reminds me of Roald Dahl as the author has created a few "new words" which are fun to read and keep the story interesting and original. ~The Inspiration Edit

Barto takes his story of Nickerbacher the Funniest Dragon and expands it in a way that those children who loved to sit with Mom and Dad and listen to them read the story of the joke-telling Dragon can now read a more detailed account of their favorite story. Parents and children will definitely want to watch for all the fun ways Barto has taken our world and twisted it into this incredibly fun chapter book! (Recommended for ages 7 - 10) ~OMG Goodies