Reviews for Neil Armstrong Is My Uncle & Other Lies Muscle Man Mcginty Told Me

Booklist Reviews 2009 April #2
*Starred Review* It is rare to have a story told with sympathy from the viewpoint of a bully. This debut novel, set in upstate New York in the summer of 1969, does just that with wit and a light touch that never denies the story's sorrows. Tammy, 10, is stuck at home with her cold parents while her brother is away in Vietnam. In her first-person narrative, she reveals the hurt and loneliness that fuel her anger as she targets the new, skinny kid, Douglas, who has moved into a foster home on the block. She mocks him for telling wild lies: he is training for the Olympics; his uncle is Neil Armstrong, about to walk on the moon; and more. The other kids, including the snotty girls from the loving family next door, let him be. Why is Tammy so furious? Gradually the reader sees that she blames Douglas for the disappearance of her beloved only friend, a foster kid who moved away without telling Tammy why and where she was going. Douglas is a bit too nice, but he messes up when he tries to help Tammy, and many readers will recognize the muddled and caring gestures among friends and enemies. Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2010 Spring
Ten-year-old Tammy is left lonely--and angry--when best friend Kebsie, a foster child, suddenly moves away. Scrawny Douglas McGinty, the new whopper-telling foster kid Tammy dubs "Muscle Man," becomes the object of her ire. This poignant story, set against a well-realized backdrop of the Vietnam War and the first moon walk, looks at how loss can both isolate people and bring them together. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2009 April #1
It's the summer of 1969, when astronauts land on the moon, and Tamara Ann Simpson is not having a good time. Foster child and best friend Kebsie has suddenly moved away and now Douglas McGinty is in her spot with Mrs. Kutchner. Tammy dubs him "Muscle Man" after one outrageous lie, determined to give him his comeuppance in front of the whole gang. Fierce and plaintive, Tammy's voice crackles with originality and yet is completely childlike. The '60s setting comes to life with sharply honed details like kickball games, ice-cream trucks, soap operas, references to "the man" and the loss of life to the Vietnamese war. The authenticity of the time and the voice combine with a poignant plot to reveal a depth unusual in such a straightforward first-person narrative. Showing a neighborhood still webbed together by typical daily contact, the characters are individually distinct and real. Also real is the fact that Tammy's tenacity is never fully appreciated, even as she softens her principles and becomes slightly more understanding than seemed possible in the beginning. (Historical fiction. 8-12) Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Annex Reviews
It's July 1969 and while the attention of everyone else in her Long Island neighborhood is on the impending moonwalk, Tamara Ann Simpson's focus is the black hole created by the sudden departure of her best friend, Kebsie, a foster child who lived across the street. She directs her considerable anger at Douglas McGinty, the new foster kid, whom she ironically dubs "Muscle Man." In her self-absorbed grief, Tammy fails to see that the whoppers Douglas tells-he's training for the 1972 Olympics, he's sung on Broadway-are his way of coping with a major loss of his own. "Muscle Man McGinty is a squirrelly runt, a lying snake, and a pitiful excuse for a ten-year old," Tammy's narration begins. "The problem is.... only I can see him for what he really is." Indeed, among the well-realized cast of scruffy neighborhood pals, no one joins Tammy's campaign to unmask Muscle Man as a phony. But author Marino, in her debut, pulls off the neat trick of having created a sullen, feisty protagonist who is worthy of redemption. Ages 8-12. (May) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

School Library Journal Reviews 2009 June

Gr 4-6--Tammy is alone. No one else on her block sees through the lies 10-year-old Muscle Man McGinty, a foster child, tells them, her best friend moved away without saying a word, her brother left for college, and his best friend was sent to Vietnam. When Muscle Man declares he can single-handedly beat the entire neighborhood in kickball, Tammy looks forward to trouncing him unmercifully. But the ground keeps shifting under her feet, and it's only when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walk on the Moon that anything begins making sense again. Set in the summer of 1969, Marino's first novel moves with a sometimes-humorous, conflict-driven plot. Some of the characterizations aren't particularly original--tomboyish Tammy can't stand her bossy--girly neighbor while her hardworking, tie-wearing father can't be in the same room with budding-hippie Tim. Still, Marino paints a detailed portrait of the seeming gulf that surrounds a person after loss and the surprising companionship one discovers in the face of desolation.--Bethany Isaacson, Wheaton Regional Library, Silver Spring, MD

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