Monday, June 19, 2017

MMGM- I Love You, Michael Collins

It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe and  #IMWAYR day at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. It's also Nonfiction Monday. 

31145091Baratz-Logstead, Lauren. I Love You, Michael Collins
June 20th 2017 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

Mamie enjoys spending the summer of 1969 hanging out with her best friend and next door neighbor, Buster. They play with her cat, Campbell, watch television when they can, read in the cool basement, or more often, run around outside until dinner time. Mamie is enthralled with the upcoming NASA project, and has decided that she likes astronaut Michael Collins more than Neil Armstrong or Buzz Aldrin, and continues her class project of writing a letter to an astronaut even though it's summer vacation. She finds it a good way of dealing with the stresses in her life. Her father thinks the NASA mission is a waste of money, but her mother wants to have a Launch Party. When her father says that she can't, it's the last straw, and her mother packs a bag and goes to stay with his sister. After a couple of days of awkwardly tending to Mamie, her father also goes off to try to reconcile with her mother. Mamie is left in the care of her older sister Bess, who is either sleeping or hanging out with her boyfriend Vinny, and even older sister Eleanor, who has her own apartment and works as a secretary. Mamie isn't too worried about being on her own, and doesn't want Buster to tell his mother. Instead, the two research Apollo 11, and Mamie plans her own party. As exciting as the moon walk is, it also is an event that shows how much life is changing in Mamie's world, and all around her.
Strengths: The details of everyday life in 1969 are absolutely perfect. THIS is what we need in historical novels. The constant battle over Froot Loops (How are they better than Cap'n Crunch?), the insistence that children need to be outside all day, the phone numbers written on the side of the phone, the details of watching the NASA coverage (Buster's father works downtown, so will go to the appliance store to watch!), and the idea that a 16 year old who sleeps all day is perfectly fine for watching a ten year old while her parents are two states away-- wow. Tang. Erector sets. Hoop earrings. One fan in the house that moves from room to room. This book used more details to good effect than any I have read recently. On top of that, the story was pitch perfect as well. Mamie's mother is tired of being at home, tired of having to ask permission, and her father was just confused about this. It had always been that way! Why isn't it working now? Told through Mamie's eyes, and including lots of details about the moon launch and talk, this is a fantastic slice of red and blue frosted life at a particular moment in time.
Weaknesses: I'm not a fan of epistolographic novels involving famous people (Dear Hank Williams, and it just seems like there are others), but this had such great details about daily life that it won me over. Also, the pitcher for the Tang on the front cover is not quite right. There were about 400 million promotional Tang pitchers, and I'm betting Buster would have had one!
What I really think: ADORED this. Buying two copies because it is so perfect for the 1960s  unit one of my teachers does.

Bugs! (Animal Planet Chapter Books #4)Buckley, James. Bugs! (Animal Planet Chapter Books #3)
June 13th 2017 by Animal Planet
Copy received from Blue Slip Media

Bugs covers an impressive range of information about insects. Not only does it describe what constitutes an insect, but the book proceeds to lay out the life cycle, diet, methods of movement, and other facts about insects in general, and also includes chapters on particular types, such as beetles, mosquitoes, and butterflies. Well illustrated, with easy to read text, the 112 page length of these will not be daunting even to emerging readers, since the books are pocket sized and the information is presented in manageable chapters. This would be a fantastic accompaniment to the Scholastic series Jack Patton's Battle Bugs and a good introduction to insects for readers who are not quite old enough to appreciate the humor in Sneed Collard III's Insects: The Most Fun Bug Book Ever. Package this with a bug collection net and container (like the set at the left, picture taken from, and you've got the perfect gift for just about any eight year old on the planet.

Earlier books in this series include Sharks #1 and Dinosaurs #2, and there is even a fiction series, Animal Planet Adventures, that looks intriguing. Who doesn't want to reading a book entitled Puppy Rescue Riddle? (September 2017).

Animal Planet Chapter Book: Snakes!Buckley, James. Snakes! (Animal Planet Chapter Books #4)
June 13th 2017 by Animal Planet
Copy received from Blue Slip Media

I definitely learned several things about snakes from reading this book. For example, different varieties of snakes move in different fashions, which makes sense when you think about snakes in the desert who have to travel over shifting sand! I also did not know that snakes had heat sensing receptors on their bodies called pits. Like the previous book in the series, Bugs, Snakes has a variety of chapters that cover different subdivisions of snakes as well as what snakes eat, how they protect themselves, and (the most useful chapter) Superdeadly snakes. Let's just say I am now afraid of both the cottonmouth and Black Mamba snakes!

Very clear photographs showing the differences in types of snakes makes this book a particularly useful one. At the back there is a list of zoos that have snakes, as well as a few further books to investigate and some organization web sites to check out.

Ms. Yingling


  1. I Love You, Michael Collins is on the top of my reading list. Your review tidbits are exactly what I hope for in this book. Thanks for featuring it during the week of its release.

  2. I will have to check out I LOVE YOU, MICHAEL COLLINS. I graduated from high school in 1969. It made me shudder to read your comment about historical fiction. Yes, the moon shot was, but for me it seems like yesterday! Sounds like a fun read.

  3. I know I will enjoy this book, Karen. You've shared so many details that I can't wait to read it! FYI-I still have a Tang pitcher, use it for iced tea! Thanks for the nf books too.

  4. Great books here. I was born the summer of the moon landing so I really enjoy reading about that time. I will be watching for this one.

  5. I've been wondering how MICHAEL COLLINS is - I have yet to see a review. It looks like one I want to check out, thank you!

  6. I am really looking forward to reading I Love You, Michael Collins. I think I was in grade 10 in 1969, and I love reading 'historical' novels where I can connect to the details of ordinary life.