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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

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  996 ratings  ·  175 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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3.67  · 
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 ·  996 ratings  ·  175 reviews

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Destinee Sutton
Jun 24, 2009 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 24, 2011 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 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book brought along with it an onslaught of memories for me. It's a great little story for just about any age. Plenty here for thought and discussion. Loved the book.
Apr 27, 2011 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
Aug 26, 2009 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 Keb ...more
May 13, 2009 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
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
Allison Campbell
May 30, 2009 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 Armstron ...more
Linda Lipko
Jul 23, 2013 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
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. Tamar ...more
Jun 16, 2009 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 neighbor ...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
Dec 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Besides having a fabulous cover, this book is truly amazing. Hidden in these 154 pages is the story of Tamara, a girl from a world where playing outside is the pinnacle of summer fun, the ice cream truck marks the start and finish of your freedom, and Neil Armstrong is about to land on the moon for the first time. In the summer of 1969, Muscle Man McGinty has just moved in. Kebsie, Tammy's best friend, used to live with McGinty's foster mother, but now he does.

Muscle Man is a liar, and this dri
May 13, 2009 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 sch ...more
Apr 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This book is an absolute gem. I ran out to my car at 11:30 at night because I had left my copy in there and NEEDED to find out what happened next to Tamara and Muscle Man.

The author does a fabulous job of capturing some of the major moments of the summer of 69, without hitting you over the head with it. And in this age of vampires and other super-ghoulies, she reminds us there is enormous tension in a very real childhood: the loss of a best friend, neighborhood kickball games and imperfect famil
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.
Jill Cd
Sep 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
An older book off my library shelves that literally took an afternoon to read. The nicknames, games, and events in this book set in 1969 make for good reading in 3rd 4th grade and up. I loved the relationship between Muscle Man and Tamara. A worthy read.
This one really grew on me as I read it to a bunch of middle school boys. Tamara and Muscle Man both have issues, which makes them absolutely endearing.
May 13, 2009 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 ar ...more
Clever use of the era (Vietnam, moon walk) and smaller cultural touch points (Barbie, Tang, kickball) to convey small people dealing with big themes including complicated family dynamics, loss, friendship, grief, shared community, and the value of solid communication. Protagonist Tamara is rather unappealing throughout (certainly not the expected when a story is told in first person) and I'm not sure the author intended this. Tamara is actually well-written, but she manages to remain one of the ...more
R. Gilbert
Jul 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read this book a while ago and, while it is one of those books that is great in many ways, one aspect that has stayed with me is the purposefully non-descriptive main character. Maybe this is because it is something I have worked to perfect with my own writing. In "Neil Armstrong is My Uncle", Nan Marino managed not identify the main character with any specific racial attributes, allowing readers from any diverse background to identify with her as though she were just like them. This is someth ...more
Feb 27, 2018 rated it liked it
I sorta like this book, and I can definitely feel the same feelings Tamara is feeling good book, but not really my favorite. Probably good for a short story for Accelerated Reading or something.
This book brought along with it an onslaught of memories for me. It's a great little story for just about any age. Plenty here for thought and discussion. Loved the book.
Grace Porosky
May 10, 2018 rated it liked it
realistic fiction
Jan 26, 2010 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.
Kathy (Bermudaonion)
May 13, 2009 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 challeng ...more
Nov 15, 2013 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
Aug 07, 2012 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
Jun 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2011
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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 l ...more
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