Trending Topics

Calif. cop publishes children’s book about firefighting dragon

“Spout the Dragon Becomes a Firefighter” tells the tale of a water-breathing dragon who discovers his differences are what make him extraordinary

spout the dragon.webp

A picture from children’s book “Spout the Dragon Becomes a Firefighter”.

Photo/David Adams

By Richard Freedman
Times-Herald, Vallejo, Calif.

SONOMA COUNTY, Calif. — When it comes to dream jobs, David Adams figures he’s got it made.

A California Highway Patrol officer for six years, the Petaluma resident gets to drive up and down Highway 1.

“I love my job,” Adams said. “I work on the coast and patrol one of the most beautiful roads in the state. I got lucky.”

Ah, but in the back of the 33-year-old’s mind was a children’s book. Not reading one. He certainly did his share of that growing up in Guerneville. Nope, Adams decided to write one.

So he did, not only achieving his “passion project” but endearing himself to his firefighting pals with the recent release of “Spout the Dragon Becomes a Firefighter,” a 34-page hardcover book about a water-breathing dragon.

Yes, water-breathing. And yes, “Spout” becomes a fire department favorite.

Don’t think Adams’ CHP and other law enforcement colleagues didn’t do a bit of razzing.

“Exactly,” he said. “It was, ‘Why didn’t you write a book of a dragon that became a police officer?’”

The reality of it, reasoned Adams, “is everyone wants to be a firefighter, including police officers. If I wasn’t a police officer, I would have definitely got into firefighting.”

That’s not to say “Spout” won’t befriend a cop in any future endeavor. With the initial popularity of Adams’ first children’s book, he’s already started the second with a third swirling around.

“I think kids love firefighters and love dragons,” Adams said by phone Tuesday. “And I had never heard of a dragon becoming a firefighter to put out a forest fire.”

Adams recalled his own childhood when his parents “used to read books to me every night.”

He and his wife kept the tradition alive, reading to their 4- and 6-year-old daughters.

It was the eldest girl that Adams was “telling a pretend story” when a water-breathing dragon came up.

“I thought, ‘this is a fun children’s book idea,’” Adams said.

After securing Vietnamese artist Nguyen Thi Hien online — “she was the best about communicating and I loved her artistic style” — Adams found Dorrance Publishing in Pittsburgh, Pa.

“The process was a lot longer and harder than I expected,” said Adams, intent on self-publishing until he realized a publisher would handle the extensive copyright and Library of Congress registration paperwork.

“I have a lot more respect now for children’s book writers in general,” he said.

Published on a print-as-you-go format, 50 books were gobbled up quickly by friends and family, Adams said.

“More than I thought would sell,” he added. “That was really cool. I think if I sold 1,000, that would be extremely exciting.”

It wasn’t all smooth. There was a typo on the back cover of the first book printed, Adams said. He was the one who caught it.

“I looked at the back and went, ‘Oh no,’” said Adams, grateful that “since it was print by demand, there weren’t 10,000 books sitting in an Amazon warehouse somewhere.”

Still, it was significant actually holding the real first book off the press.

“My wife was shocked at how good it turned out. She was like, ‘Wow, you actually did do it,’” Adams said, adding that his other half “has been very supportive. I do try and use her ideas when she gives them to me.”

Though “Spout” is the only dragon in the book — “though he might be getting a friend that breathes fire,” Adams said — there are humans, including one portrayed from a real-life firefighting friend.

“He was excited to see he made the book. Some of my other firefighting friends are jealous they didn’t make the cut,” Adams said, adding that “I hang out with firefighters a lot. They feed me brunch every Sunday.”

Though COVID-19 has eliminated a chance at reading “Spout” to any schools, “I’d love doing that,” Adams said. “It would be so cool to read my own children’s book at my kids’ school.”

From start to finish, the book’s direction “changed a little bit,” Adams said. “I had a general idea. I wanted the dragon to put out a forest fire and have the fire department ask him to join.”

Adams also had a cat getting stuck in a tree. He couldn’t help himself. Besides, he actually called his neighborhood fire department in Petaluma to rescue his own cat in a tree six months ago.

“They were happy to help,” he said.

And they hadn’t even read “Spout” yet, which could become an ongoing collection beyond a few more books. Adams can dream it would be the next Dr. Suess or Disney books which he grew up on.

“We had dozens of Dr. Suess books,” he said. Yes, he and his wife bought the same books for their daughters.

“We’re running out of book shelf space. We’re now storing books in the garage,” Adams said.

Undoubtedly, room will be found in the house for “Spout,” with the book’s message that it’s OK to “feel different than everyone else and realize they can use those differences for special things,” Adams said.

“Spout” T-shirts, coffee mugs and, who knows, a television cartoon?

“That would be the dream if Netflix called and said, ‘We’d love to use your idea.’ Seeing it as a children’s show would be awesome,” Adams said. “And a ‘Spout’ plush toy.”

Not everyone expected Adams to ever write a children’s book.

“My sergeants and lieutenants. They were shocked when I brought some of them a copy of the book,” Adams said.

And, even though he described himself as “goofy” during his high school years, former classmates would still be surprised he came out with a children’s book, Adams said.

“I definitely wasn’t thinking about writing a children’s book in high school. Three seasons of baseball and a season of wrestling kept me busy,” Adams said.

Though “Spout” may tackle real-life problems in future books, COVID-19 won’t be one of them, Adams insisted.

“There will not be a social distancing dragon book,” he said.

To buy “Spout,” visit or

©2020 Times-Herald (Vallejo, Calif.)