"Overall, this dramatic story about a dragon stand-up comedian will likely entertain readers of all ages."– 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.
This wordy debut picture book by Barto features veteran illustrator Cerato’s fantastic illustrations of ducks, chickens and turkeys searching for great new talents.
Young chick Anamazie Marie LaBelle is not just the youngest marching band majorette in Gobbleville history, she’s also a finalist in Gobbleville’s Got Talent. She participates in the finals with the help of her mother, Henrietta Pearl, whose interest in her daughter’s fame is as dramatic as one would expect from a participant on a reality show (and her musical education apparently derived from reality show sources, given her use of terms like “pitchy”). But despite her natural talents, Anamazie loses the competition to Edith Winkmeyer. Luckily, a Gollywood Pictures agent is more impressed with Anamazie’s performance, and she’s whisked off to a screen test. From there, it’s all smooth sailing. Anamazie rehearses her lines, dresses in costumes and learns how to work well with temperamental stars. (Her mother, still full of excitement and eager to interfere, has to be dragged off the sound stage by security roosters.) Of course, the little chicken is a hit, and she’s ready for more adventures by the end of her first movie. Anamazie is a perfect star, and her few flaws are easily forgiven, but it’s hard to imagine her actually striving for anything, despite her earnest statement: “My mom says you can do anything if you work hard and never give up.” The delightful illustrations, which add to the text’s poultry jokes, are sure to appeal to a young, lap-sitting crowd. Newly independent readers may struggle with the length, but the vocabulary is manageable and full of familiar, glamorous, Hollywood-type phrases (“Sweetheart, your co-star is getting his feathers ruffled when you back him out of the shot”).
A school-to-screen fairy tale with little conflict or character development that’s enriched by the eye-catching cartoon illustrations.