Praise for Nickel Bay Nick:
"Told with wry humor, this fast-paced novel will appeal to fans of Louis Sachar's Holes (Farrar, 1998) and Gary D. Schmidt's Okay for Now (Clarion, 2011). In the best tradition of Christmas stories, it's a bit of a tearjerker as Sam discovers just why Mr. Wells cares so much about him and learns to forgive his own parents. This is a Christmas book that can be enjoyed year-round."
—School Library Journal
"Sam’s a great, well-realized kid, and readers will root for him every step of the way... Crime does pay off—to the benefit of others—in this enjoyable novel."
Accolades for Dean Pitchford:
Captain Nobody has been nominated for 13 State Award lists: FL, IL, KS, MN, MO, NH, NM (2 separate years), NY, OK, SC, TN, VA. Audio edition was nominated for a 2010 Grammy Award in the Best Spoken Word for Children category.
The Big One-Oh has been nominated for 5 State Award Lists: KS, MD, MO, NH, SC. Audio edition was nominated for a 2007 Grammy Award in the Best Spoken Word for Children category.
Gr 4–7—Eleven-year-old Sam, puny after the one-two punch of a heart transplant and his mother's abandonment of the family, is one bad move away from juvie. He freely expresses his anger toward his father and the world with bitterness and vandalism. On Christmas night, he damages the house of a rich recluse, and, to avoid arrest, Sam and his father agree that he will work to pay for his destruction. It turns out that Mr. Wells, confined to a wheelchair by a broken leg, has been the anonymous benefactor of the depressed town of Nickel Bay, handing out $100 bills each Christmas. This year, the residents have sorely missed the visit of "Nickel Bay Nick" and it is Sam's mission to become his town's secret St. Nick. To succeed he must follow orders, see the world from others' perspective, and earn the respect of his new mentor. Told with wry humor, this fast-paced novel will appeal to fans of Louis Sachar's Holes (Farrar, 1998) and Gary D. Schmidt's Okay for Now (Clarion, 2011). In the best tradition of Christmas stories, it's a bit of a tearjerker as Sam discovers just why Mr. Wells cares so much about him and learns to forgive his own parents. This is a Christmas book that can be enjoyed year-round.—Anne Connor, formerly at Los Angeles Public Library
A kid discovers the identity of his depressed town's anonymous benefactor and ends up learning some secrets about himself. Eleven-year-old Sam Brattle, embittered at having the lousiest Christmas ever--and with a heart transplant and extensive history of larceny behind him--is blackmailed by his mysterious neighbor into taking on the role of Nickel Bay's homegrown secret Santa, the titular Nickel Bay Nick. Wealthy Mr. Wells has stealthily been distributing $100 bills around town at Christmastime for years, boosting the spirits and fortunes of its economically discouraged citizens. This year, laid up with a broken leg and possessing a weighty dossier of Sam's crimes, which threaten to remove Sam from his struggling single dad's care, Mr. Wells needs someone crafty and nimble-fingered to do the deed for him--i.e., Sam, who can't afford to refuse. What ensues adds up to a fast-paced adventure, narrated by Sam in the first person, that's filled with humor, excitement, some shady characters, secrets, Sam's growing maturity and some deep emotional pain. There's a real cinematic feel here--Pitchford also writes for the screen and stage--and there's a certain amount of implausibility, predictability and coincidence, yet these contrivances don't mar this well-written tale. Sam's a great, well-realized kid, and readers will root for him every step of the way. A surprising, poignant twist at the end explains Mr. Wells' true motives for involving Sam and brings about a satisfying, uplifting finale. Crime does pay off--to the benefit of others--in this enjoyable novel. (Fiction. 9-12)