Neil Armstrong is My Uncle & Other Lies Muscle Man McGinty Told Me by Nan Marino
Finished: June 17, 2009
First Published: May 12, 2009
Genre: children, realistic fiction
Muscle Man McGinty is a squirrelly runt, a lying snake, and a pitiful excuse for a ten-year-old.
Reason for Reading: Obviously enough, a title like that makes you look twice plus the historical setting of the moon landing caught my eye and the book looked like an interesting change of pace for me. I received a review copy from Roaring Brook Press.
Comments: Tamara Ann Simpson's best friend has moved and now in her house lives a ten-year-old boy who is always smiling and is a skinny runt so she's nicknamed him Muscle Man; only problem is he loves the name. In fact, he never seems to get any of the sarcastic comments she throws his way, he's always smiling and being nice to her. But the real thing that bothers her is why nobody can see through his lies? Neil Armstrong is his uncle? He's training for the next Olympics? But when he says he can beat the whole kickball team singlehandedly, Tamara thinks this is her chance to prove to everyone he's just a wormy liar.
This is a wonderful little book. Tamara is not exactly a bully, but she is the one in her gang of friends who has the mouth and calls things as she sees them without thinking about someone's feelings first. Tamara does not have a happy life at home and when her best friend moves away quite suddenly it hits her hard and she experiences a loss like she's never felt before. But there is something about Muscle Man that she doesn't know and if she'd stop being so selfish for a minute she'd realize she is the only one who is not seeing Muscle Man for who he really is. So Tamara learns one of those hard lessons of life.
There are lots of fun childhood moments as the neighbourhood children gather together each day and play on the street in a way that is really not seen much anymore these days. There are also poignant moments such as when the reality of the Vietnam War comes to the street. Tamara's character is well-defined, a feisty, hard-headed yet lonely and neglected child that the reader sympathises with. Wonderfully written and a quick read. This is a little book that packs a big punch! A good read. Recommended.
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