Wednesday, December 17, 2014
At Kidlitcon, one of the diversities that was mentioned as being underserved was children in poverty. We are seeing more and more books that include characters that are economically disadvantaged, but this book had an entire town on the rocks. Also, I can't think of other titles where the main character has had a heart transplant.
Pitchford, Dean. Nickel Bay Nick
October 17th 2013 by Putnam Juvenile
Nominated by Always in the Middle
Fifth grader Sam's life is hard and he's not making it any better. He lives in the economically disadvantaged town of Nickel Bay, his father's bakery may go under, his mother ran off when he was young to be a singer, and Sam himself had a heart transplant at four and is somewhat fragile. This doesn't stop him from being a complete idiot, though, hanging out with troublesome 8th graders who encourage him to shoplift and steal his father's car. He also deals with anger and disappointment at learning about his mother's remarriage by throwing roks at windows in a derelict building, and ends his evening by destroying the Christmas display at the home of wealthy neighbor Mr. Wells. It turns out that Mr.Wells worked in intelligence, and has done some investigation into Sam's long criminal record. Using this information, Mr. Wells demands that Sam help him; he's broken his leg, which has put an end to his activity as holiday philanthropist Nickel Bay Nick, who passes out $100 bills, to the delight of local and international media. Sam has a job working with Mr. Wells, ostensibly (for his father's benefit) filing papers, and does as much of the handing out of money as he can manage. There are hiccoughs, of course, but things go fairly well, and some holiday spirit is restored to Nickel Bay. Sam also finds out secrets about Mr. Wells, as well as his own family.
Strengths: There are very few Christmas stories out, and this one, centering as it does on philanthropy, has its moments. Fun, adventure, humor-- many things to recommend it.
Weaknesses: I hated Sam. He certainly improves throughout the course of the book, but he is one of the most unpleasant characters I've come across in a while. Certainly, life has not been kind to him, but he definitely makes a large part of his own problems. The ending of the book was a little too neat for my taste.
Posted by Ms. Yingling at 6:39 AM