Neil Armstrong Is My Uncle by Nan Marino

Neil Armstrong is My Uncle and Other Lies Muscle Man McGinty Told Me by Nan MarinoTitle:  Neil Armstrong is My Uncle and Other Lies Muscle Man McGinty Told Me

Author:  Nan Marino

Hardcover:  160 pages

ISBN:  9781596434998

Challenges:  2009 ARC Reading Challenge

From the back of the book:

Muscle Man McGinty is a squirrelly runt, a lying snake, and a pitiful excuse for a ten-year-old.  The problem is that no one on Ramble Street knows it, but me.

Tamara Ann Simpson is tired of all the lies.  And boy, oh boy, can Muscle Man McGinty tell some whoppers!  When he does the unthinkable and challenges the entire block to a game of kickball, Tamara knows she’s found her opportunity to prove to everyone what a wormy little liar Muscle Man really is.  Of course things would be a lot easier if her best friend Kebsie Grobser were here to help her…

It’s the summer of 1969 and the world is getting ready for a young man named Neil Armstrong to make history by walking on the moon.  But change happens a bit more slowly in Massapequa Park, and it’ll take one giant leap for Tamara to understand the likes of Muscle Man McGinty.

I really enjoyed reading Neil Armstrong is My Uncle.  For me, this book was a trip into the past to my own childhood.  While the world of Indian Heights and that of Rumble Street were very different, and a good decade separated us, I could still cast the characters of the book with the kids from my own block.  I was, of course, Tamara.  I could totally relate to her, as I too never quite got the subtleties of the social game and all was black-and-white for me, as well.  I had a few Muscle Men at various stages growing up, people who seem to come along with the world undeservedly on their side.

There are lucky people in the world, and then there are people who always seem to find themselves knee-deep in trouble.  It’s not hard to guess which group I fall into.

If I were lucky, the morning of the us-against-Muscle Man game would be different.  I’d wake up to singing birds and sushine, scarf down a bowl of Apple Jacks, and be the first one standing on the Rattles’ front lawn.

But I’m a “trouble” person.  And that means I’m in deep water from the moment the day begins…

-page 54 in the ARE copy

Okay, so I’ve broke the three things hoped for in the publisher’s letter.  I didn’t read it in one setting in a comfy chair, but in about 5 sits… and in the car, and on the beach, then in the car, and finally in my bed.  I wasn’t born until 1973, so the trip to the moon was old hat by the time I was around, and I didn’t feel like calling anyone to ask them where they were.  And the front cover is about as much interest as my young readers care about the book because the sun is shining and the waves were coming in and the fair is today… and “Come on Mom, why are you still typing?!  We’re gonna miss the rides!  I’m hungry!  I want an elephant ear!  Let’s go, already!”

But Neil Armstrong is My Uncle is a fun book that is supposedly for the 8-12 set, but I never felt like I was reading a kids book, to be honest.  I just had a pleasant vacation into a safe past and for that I thank Nan Marino and Roaring Brook Press for the chance to read it 🙂  I give it 3.5 out of 5 stars.  Oh, and be sure to heck out Nan Marino’s site at http://www.nanmarino.com/

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Books, Buds, and Blueberry-Lemon Crunch Cake

It’s been an interesting and fun day here.  The weather is gorgeous!  Warm, sunny, and a good breeze to blow all the winter stench away.  The girls and I all headed to the library to take back a few things and Sam wanted to get some more movies and Twilight.  As it turns out, by the way, all I had to do was tell her what was in Marked (oral sex), and she decided it wasn’t a book for her.  She’s a good kid 🙂

On our way, we met up with a friend who reminded me that the library sale was today, a fact I had NOT forgotten, but alas, did not have any money for it.  I made the comment that I didn’t have any money so I’d have to catch the next one, and she pressed a five dollar bill in my hand and told me to get everyone some books. 😀 Friends are great 😉

So, at our library sale books cost fifty cents a piece, or $5 per bag.  I perused the books, looking at all the books offered. Most of the children’s books were a bit baby-ish, but Maggie picked up a book on Texas (that’s where my mom lives).  Sam snatched up a Where’s Waldo? book, and Gwen got a beautifully illustrated fairy tale book.

One of the main criteria for the books I chose were size.  The smaller the book, the more I could cram in the bag 😉 so no coffee table books today (there wasn’t many available anyway, oddly enough).  But a very interesting thing has happened since joining LibraryThing, the blogging realm and reading emails from publishers, Shelf Awarenes, and everything else.  I’m beginning to recocgnize titles I’ve heard and wanted.  For instance, one book that jumped out at me is called People of the Valley, though I’m not even sure why it popped out at me.

Then, just a little bit ago, the mailman dropped off a few of my mooches, and one of them caught my eye. Last week, Abe Publishing sent an email about the 10 overlooked Pulitzer Prize winning books, and I immediately mooched them or put the titles on my wishlists. One of them, Lamb in His Bosom, was among my haul today.  What caught my attention about the book is that, looking at the cover or reading the title, I would have passed over this book without a thought.

Lamb in His Bosom by Caroline Miller

My first thought on it is, “It’s just some religious book.”  Which reminds me of the proverb “Never judge a book by its cover.”  And I wonder how many exceptional books have I missed, how many life-changing narratives have I blown off, and it makes me a little sad.

Add to that, all those books in the library itself were all dreams and babies of writers, and I will never be able to read even 1% of all of them.  So many colorful spines that call out to me from those lightly dusted faux-wood shelves, and I am forced to turn my back on them and walk out… ignoring all those voices of all those people who had something to say and managed to do what most don’t:  Bind their words in an available and solid, tangible way.

So have you ever had a book call to you?  Have you read a book that you loved, but would have never picked up on your own?  What sources do you turn to for the next title to read?  How do you stretch your reading taste?

Off to eat my Blueberry-Lemon Crunch Bundt cake 😀