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Neil Armstrong is My Uncle and Other Lies Muscle Man McGinty Told Me
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Neil Armstrong is My Uncle and Other Lies Muscle Man McGinty Told Me

3.66  ·  Rating Details ·  899 Ratings  ·  167 Reviews
"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 knows it but me. In the entire town of Massapequa Park, only I can see him for what he really is. A phony.

It's the summer of 1969, and things are not only changing in Tamara's little Long Island town, but in the world. Perhaps Tamara could stand
Hardcover, 160 pages
Published May 12th 2009 by Roaring Brook Press (first published May 1st 2009)
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Newbery 2010
47th out of 103 books — 546 voters
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80th out of 294 books — 105 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Destinee Sutton
Jul 01, 2009 Destinee Sutton rated it liked it
Recommends it for: 10 and up
It's the summer of '69, but we're not talking Woodstock--we're talking kickball, Neil Armstrong, and the ice cream man. Our narrator, Tamara, has just finished the fifth grade. She's unhappy because her best friend has suddenly moved away and in her place a runty, mendacious boy nicknamed Muscle Man has moved in. Sadly, she takes her frustration out on poor Muscle Man, who smiles through all her bullying like a love-hungry puppy who doesn't know any better.

I think we're used to hearing stories
Debbie McNeil
Jun 25, 2011 Debbie McNeil rated it it was amazing
Great child-accessible portrayal of the era: from Vietnam to gender roles, the hippy movement and moon landing. Add to that a great story of friendship and keeping an open mind and you've got a book that has it all!.....One harsh moment: realizing my childhood is now "historical" fiction. >sigh<
Sep 05, 2009 Staci rated it really liked it
Recommended to Staci by: Roaring Brook Press
Shelves: 2009-reads
What did you like most about this book? The time period was a favorite element in this book. I love the late 60's and the innocence that seemed to still exist. During the summer all of the neighborhood kids would get all worked when the heard the ice-cream truck coming. They would play endless games of kickball, and have special meetings to decide quarrels. I also really liked Douglas, AKA Muscle Man McGinty. He's a sweet soul who is a foster kid, but all Tamara knows is that her best friend ...more
Apr 27, 2011 Marfita rated it it was ok
Shelves: children-s
For once you can see why a main character is so annoying. Tammy hates her new next-door neighbor because he has taken the place in foster care of what had been her best friend. Everything revolves around her hurts and needs (so what if her friend and her friend's mom have to go into hiding because of the father?), which is fairly typical for an adolescent. But her parents seem to be the same. Her mother is only involved in her soap operas and her father uses his job, which he seems to hate, as a ...more
So you know how everyone's buzzing about When You Reach Me? I'm going to go out on a limb here and brace myself on the inevitable tar-and-feather treatment that I'm expecting as a response to this statement.

I liked this book better.

Both books have a lot of similar features. Both books have amazingly beautiful yet efficient writing, where words are not wasted. Both are works of historical fiction (this one takes place in 1969). In both stories, the main characters learn some lessons about friends
Brenda Kahn
I enjoyed this yarn well enough - interesting unreliable narrator with no insight into her bullying ways, rich neighborhood setting in a time where kids were kicked out of the house in the mornings and roamed the neighborhoods until dinnertime, where the Mr. Softee truck was welcomed. The narrator sounded appropriately young but the breathiness of the performance distracted me.
Allison Campbell
May 30, 2009 Allison Campbell rated it it was amazing
I was fortunate to receive a copy of Neil Armstrong Is My Uncle And Other Lies Muscle Man McGinty Told Me by Nan Marino from Roaring Brook Press. This is a sweet, funny story set in upstate New York just before the moon landing, focusing on a group of neighborhood children who have their own hierarchy and rules. Tammy, the narrator, can't stand the newcomer to the neighborhood, a scrawny boy she mockingly dubs "Muscle Man." He tells outrageous lies, the most recent of which is that Neil ...more
Sep 01, 2009 babyhippoface rated it it was amazing
Best first line I've read in a long while: Muscle Man McGinty is a squirrelly runt, a lying snake, and a pitiful excuse for a ten-year-old.

Lots here to like. This is the first kids' novel I can remember reading where we see everything from the point of view of an antagonistic character. Tamara is kind of a bully. Okay, she's a pretty big bully to Muscle Man. Don't know if she treats anyone else that way, but from her references to being grounded all the time and kids rolling their eyes at her ma
Linda Lipko
Dec 08, 2014 Linda Lipko rated it it was amazing
What a delightful book! While the world watches Neil Armstrong take his first step on the moon in 1969, the town of Massapequa Park grieves the loss of a young 18 year old man who will never return. When Tamara's brother's best friend Vinnie dies in the battlefield of Viet Nam, she learns to look at life differently.

A few months earlier, Douglas McGinty moved to town, residing in a home of a lovely woman who takes in foster children. Tamara's best friend was a foster child in this home, and she
Jun 17, 2009 Regina rated it it was amazing
Excellent historical fiction for middle-grade readers. Set in the summer of 1969, the story follows Tamara, whose best friend has unexpectedly moved away, only to be replaced by a boy who manages to get away with telling outrageous lies and winning everyone else's friendship. The emotional story of their unlikely friendship is a surprise. Just who is the bad guy here? Well, nobody. A fast-moving, thoughtful, and often humorous look into the friendship and family dynamics of a small-town ...more
Someone I was discussing this book with remarked that it perfectly captured the voice of a 10-year-old girl, and I think that's its best and most noticeable quality. This novel captures the summer in 1969 when 10-year-old Tamara is devastated by the loss of her best friend and decides to take some of her grief out on the new foster kid who's taken moved into the old friend's home, who she's nicknamed Muscle Man McGinty. With the sense of justice of a 10-year-old, Tammy is always hoping others in ...more
May 13, 2009 Colleen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed, childrens
What an excellent offering for young adults! This slim book should be an easy read for the 8-12 crowd, and offers some important life lessons about loss and dreams and rushing to judgment. In this first person account, Tamara speaks with a clear and wonderful voice that really captures the petulant anger and confusion of a young girl whose best friend moved away without advance notice or a forwarding address. I enjoyed this novel and recommend teachers consider it for possible inclusion in a ...more
Jul 24, 2009 Betsy rated it really liked it
Whisper "historical fiction" in a kid's ear and you may see them blanch and cringe at the thought. Ugh. History. And history in fiction? For many a kid it conjures up thoughts of dry, required reading. Titles that are supposed to teach and inform even as they "entertain" (read: bore). Kids with a penchant for historical fiction know that there's a wide swath of titles out there to enjoy, but too often it's the dull ones that end up on the Summer Reading lists. Books of historical fiction that ...more
Jan 27, 2010 Josiah rated it liked it
Every once in a while—how far apart is impossible to predict—a character in a novel will come who is unique, and special, and somehow digs deep into a person's heart and mind to make a permanent home there. This is the case with Muscle Man McGinty. I can't really even put my finger on why I found him to be so endearing; it's one of those visceral things that just is, that one doesn't question, because its reality is so certain.

In my view, this entire book flows from the character of Muscle Man
Aug 27, 2014 Eli rated it liked it
To be honest, I don't know how this book will go over with other readers of this story.

The themes in this story doesn't just encompass Woodstock, but rather much more and much less serious than that. NEIL talks about everything from landing on the moon to gender roles to best friends leaving to death. There are many good things in this story, but I think the most debated issue about this book is the fact that the main character is a bully without even realizing it.

Tamara is upset that Muscle Man
Kathy (Bermudaonion)
Jun 11, 2009 Kathy (Bermudaonion) rated it it was amazing
Tamara Simpson is having a rough summer. Her best friend, Kebsie, was a foster child living with the woman across the street and she’s moved back in with her mother. A new boy, Douglas, has moved in – Tamara calls him Muscle Man because he’s so scrawny. Tamara resents Muscle Man because he’s taken Kebsie’s place and he tells lies that no one else seems to notice. Among other things, he claims to be training for the Olympic swimming team and says that Neil Armstrong is his uncle. When he ...more
Aug 07, 2012 Lauren rated it it was ok
After finishing this, I read a review talking about how refreshing it was to read a story as told from the perspective of a bully.

I think we read different books.

While I suppose the bully angle sort of makes sense, it doesn’t work for me. To me, Tamara (the narrator) was a bratty loner no one likes (or really pays attention to) rather than a bully. Bullies command attention. Bullies invoke fear. Bullies are not mocked by all of the neighborhood kids and treated as a joke. Anyway, the plot: Tamar
It's the summer of 1969, and Tamara Simpson is missing her BF and confidant, Kebsie who up and moved away. She was living in foster care with Mrs. Kutchner, Tamara's neighbor, until a few days ago. Who moved in, but Muscle Man McGinty, who stretches the truth and tells whoppers every chance he Neil Armstrong is his uncle, like he sang on broadway, like he can beat the whole kickball team single-handedly. Yet, he is a schmoozer and usually gets his way and has the whole neighborhood ...more
Jun 19, 2011 Kelly rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2011
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 27, 2012 Emmaleigh rated it liked it
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 ...more
Teresa Garrett
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. ...more
Narrated by Emily Bauer. As the world is on the verge of seeing men land on the moon, Tamara is enjoying summer kickball games on Ramble Street with the other kids...everyone that is except a new boy she's dubbed Muscle Man McGinty. She's fed up with his tall tales (see the book's title) and wants to prove him for the liar he is. When he willingly takes on all the kids in a kickball game, Tamara knows this is the big opportunity for him to finally admit he's a loser. Actually, more ...more
Judi Paradis
Dec 01, 2010 Judi Paradis rated it it was ok
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. ...more
Jun 18, 2009 Nicole rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Nov 20, 2009 Andy rated it liked it
Shelves: 3-star
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 ...more
Jun 13, 2009 Susan rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Janet Maisel
Jul 02, 2010 Janet Maisel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nice story that took me home to my childhood neighborhood. It struck close to home in lots of ways, particularly my family life, and sometimes I don't like going back there, even as an adult, so I would prefer a children's book that is more fun and upbeat and provides a bit of an escape. I think as a child this book would have been very sad to read. Is it too much to expect elementary school kids to be able to see the life from a grown up perspective. I think it is another way to ask them to be ...more
Ellen Brandt
Dec 13, 2010 Ellen Brandt rated it liked it
Shelves: older-elementary
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 ...more
Kay Mcgriff
Apr 20, 2012 Kay Mcgriff rated it liked it
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 ...more
Abby Johnson
Oct 06, 2009 Abby Johnson rated it really liked it
It's the summer of 1969 and the whole world is waiting to watch Neil Armstrong take the first steps on the moon. Tamara is gritting her teeth and dealing with Douglas "Muscle Man" McGinty, the wimpy new foster kid who's replaced Tamara's best friend Kebsie down the street. He thinks he's so great, but Tamara can see straight through his lies. He's not training for the Olympics. And Neil Armstrong is not his uncle, no matter what the wormy kid says. Why can't Muscle Man go away and send Kebsie ...more
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