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

UPDATE TIME: 2017-09-01 
Review Score: 4 out of 5 star From 39 user ratings

"Get ready to travel back in time to 1969 with this book. Things are changing slowly Ramble Street as the world gets ready to watch Neil Armstrong take the first step on the moon. For the kids on Ramble Street, nothing comes in the way of a good kickball game–unless it is the lies told by Muscle Man McGinty. Tamara has had enough of his lies and thinks she might finally prove her point when Muscle Man claims he can beat the the other kids on the block all by himself. Somehow, though, things don’t go quite according to Tamara’s plan. Tamara is so wrapped up in proving Muscle Man’s lies, that she can’t see the truth in front of her face. No matter how quiet things are on Ramble Street, issues from the rest of world leak into the carefree days of childhood.

First published on my blog at
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"December's Teachers as Readers selection. Like 2 of the 3 others that we have read this year, this one takes place during the era of my childhood. (60s/70s). I wonder if it will resonate with today's child. (historical fiction, I suppose). Tamara, the 10 year old narrator, is angry that her neighbor and best friend (a foster child, we later find out) moves away without a forwarding address and a boastful boy (another foster child) moves in. Tamara is determined to make life difficult for the newcomer ,especially when the rest of the neighborhood children seem willing to overlook the fibbing and allow the boy to join their summer activities. None of the characters are all good or all bad. "Muscle Man" tells outrageous lies, but he is friendly and kind. Tamara doesn't really mean to be a bully, she's just trying to deal with her own insecurities" said.

"This one took me back to the summers of my childhood. Tamara feels abandoned when her best friend Kebsie abruptly moves away. The odd kid out in the neighborhood gang, Tamara takes out her hurt on the kid who now occupies Kebsie's house, a skinny, brash, sunny kid who Tamara calls "Muscle Man". MM has a habit of telling whoppers that drives Tamara crazy. Worse, she seems to be the only one cheezed off by this kid--for some reason, the rest of the neighborhood gang lets his "stories' slide. Everyone likes him--even when he tells everyone that his uncle is Neil Armstrong! When MM declares that he can beat everyone at kickball (the neighborhood passion), Tamara believes her day has come--at last everyone will see MM for what he is--a pants-on-fire liar. But the stars align a bit differently for Tamara. " said.

"The voice of Tamara Simpson, the first-person narrator, is distinct and original. Tamara is a feisty character troubled by the loss of her best friend Kebsie. Kebsie has suddenly moved away with her birth mother, and Douglas McGinty appears to have taken Kebsie's spot as Mrs. Kutchner's new foster child. "Muscle Man McGinty" tells lie after lie, and Tamara can not believe that these lies go unnoticed by everyone around. Her earnest disbelief is part of what makes her so childlike and painfully amusing. Author Marion creates a realistic suburban setting that evokes the time of 1969. Neighborhood kids and adults come together for kick-ball games and block parties. Envy seems to underlie Tamara's disdain for the well-mannered and girly MaryBeth and her happy Grabowsky family. Towards the end of the novel, Tamara learns that she is not the only one in Massapequa, New York to have lost someone they love, nor is she the only person in the universe to feel desolate, alone, or empty. " said.

"It’s summer, so all the kids are out of school and running around the neighborhood. Their days are filled with kickball and ice cream. Unfortunately Tammy just isn’t happy. Her best friend moved away and a boy has moved into her old house. Tammy nicknames him “Muscle Man” and hates hearing all his lies; even worse, no one else, even the adults, calls Muscle Man out on the lies. As summer stretches on and the realities of Vietnam hit home, things change even more for Tammy and the neighborhood. The story culminates with the moon landing and an understanding between Tammy and her nemesis.

Nan Marino has crafted a fabulously funny, yet heart-breaking story. The characters were easy to connect with and very realistic. Although intended for a preteen audience, Neil Armstrong Is My Uncle will appeal to all ages. Hopefully it’ll inspire the kids who read it to find out more about the historical events in the book.
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"Tammy, the narrator of this book, is exactly the same age as me--we were both 10 years old in 1969 when Neil Armstrong landed on the moon. This kept me interested as the author gets lots of details about this time in the U.S. exactly right. However, Tammy is a really unpleasant kid and it is hard to feel sympathy for her as you read the book. She is angry that her best friend has moved from a foster-care home in her neighborhood and is determined to dislike the boy who moved in to replace her. Muscleman McGinty, the new kid, is delightful and tries really hard to fit in--sometimes by stretching the truth. Tammy despises him, and it is hard to find her likable, since it is clear that there is something really bad going on in this boy's life. Tammy's family is awful and it is obvious that there is a reason for her being so unpleasant, but it was hard to read page after page. The book ends on a hopeful note, but it seemed a bit forced." said.

"From the title I expected a story about an older person: Muscle Man McGinty - I expected a grown up not a scrawny, scrapping 10 year old. The story is told from the point of view of Tamara who lives on Ramble street in a small town in New York. Tamara's friends from the neighborhood have formed a kickball club complete with their own governing committee. Tamara's family is eccentric to say the least and they always seem to be on the outside looking in at neighbors parties and other events. Tamara acts like it does not bother her at all but secretly she would love to be included. Enter Muscle Man McGinty so named by Tamara because he is not muscular at all and it is hate at first sight. It does not help his case that he is living in the house where Kebsie, Tamara's best friend, used to live. Muscle Man goes around telling huge whoppers that seem to impress everyone excetp Tamara who is out to prove he is a liar. This continually blows up in her face. Tamara is disgusted with everyone for not being as outraged at the lies as she is. Great look at life in small town America in 1969. " said.

"When I read the synopsis of this book I wasn't really sure what I was getting into, and I found myself pleasantly surprised. I enjoyed the fact that this book is historical fiction from the 1960's and combats issues of things happening during that time period but also with issues that kids, no matter the time face. The 10 year old Tammy who is telling us the story gives us life from her quirky perspective and with all of her childish reasoning you have no reason to doubt her. The book took on issues that I truly didn't expect it would given the title and the first few chapters and it quickly took a turn into a much different book. As an adult I really enjoyed reading how a child viewed a lot of major issues and would process the different things that are going on in the world around her and when the serious issues started to come into play I was intrigued to continue reading. However, I am wondering if the children that are reading this are going to connect with the serious issues and understand what is really taking place." said.

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