Review: I Love You, Michael Collins

I-love-you-Michael-CollinsBook: I Love You, Michael Collins (2017)
Author: Lauren Baratz-Logsted
Genre: MG, Historical (1969)
Rating: 5 stars

Basic plot: It’s 1969 and the Apollo 11 moon landing mission is taking the world by storm. Mamie’s fifth-grade class is given the assignment to write to one of the three astronauts. Everybody chooses Neil Armstrong or Buzz Aldrin, all except for Mamie. She decides to write to Michael Collins, the third astronaut on the mission. Somehow, she feels a kinship with him. Especially when her family all seem to abandon ship, leaving her to pilot the “ship” all by herself.

WHAT’S COOL…

1) I love a good epistolary novel. This one works quite nicely as Mamie writes to Michael Collins (who is in space for some of the time she is writing!)

2) I thought Baratz-Logsted was able to capture Mamie’s voice quite nicely. One of my favourite parts near the opening of the book (which then sets the tone of the story) is when she talks about her teacher (Mrs. Collins) and how she knew that it was not the same person as Michael Collins wife, even if they shared a name.

3) Buster was a such good friend for Mamie. I loved all the Tang he brought over for them to drink. It made me want to drink Tang! (You can even see the Tang on the cover of the book!)

4) The sisters and parents drove me crazy! How they leave Mamie. But it worked well for the story! One of my favourite lines is when Mamie writes: Doesn’t anybody stay with the ship anymore! (And the fact that she’s telling this to Michael Collins… well, he understands, right?)

5) What a fun little backstory of how the sisters in the story are all named for Presidents’ wives. Which, of course, is how Mamie gets her name, after Mamie Eisenhower. 🙂

6) I’m glad about [*slight SPOILER] the happy ending. I like happy endings! [end Spoiler]

7) One of the things I liked about this book is the focus on Michael Collins. I barely knew his name until this past summer, which was the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. He was always just the “third astronaut” to me. I think it was Google who had Michael Collins narrate a piece about his experience aboard Apollo 11. He had such a down-to-earth kind of voice. And Mamie’s right… somebody has to stay with the ship. Here’s to all the Michael Collins types out there! (And yes, I’m a Michael Collins type of person!)

WHAT’S NOT COOL…

1) Honestly, I actually can’t really think of anything to put here.

FINAL THOUGHTS

My rating is 5 Stars (out of 5) – I really enjoyed this book. I love the historical setting and letters Mamie writes to her hero. Such a quick and fun read, but also doesn’t shy away from some more difficult themes. I’d definitely recommend to anybody who’s interested in astronauts and space!


YOUR TURN…

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday

Review: Okay For Now

Okay-for-NowBook: Okay For Now
Author: Gary D. Schmidt
Genre: Upper MG, Historical Fiction (1960s)
Rating: 4 Stars

Basic Plot: Doug and his family have just moved to a new town and he hates it there. But then he discovers Audubon’s book, Birds of America, in the library. He goes every Saturday and the librarian sets him on a path to to learn how to draw the birds. Soon he discovers that the birds are slowly being cut out of the book to be sold by the town council. That’s when Doug takes it upon himself to find the missing birds and return them to their rightful spot in the book at the library.

Note: This is a companion book to The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt.

WHAT’S COOL…

1) I loved learning about John James Audubon. Each chapter begins with a picture of one of the birds from the book. And I enjoyed the art lessons at the library with Mr. Powell! I was definitely rooting for Doug to get all the missing birds back into the book.

2) Doug’s English teacher decides that her eighth graders are going to study Jane Eyre (the 160-page abridged version, which for Doug is 160 pages too long). I love Jane Eyre and any book that uses this book as part of their plot is almost a sure bet in my eyes. I also love that this book (Jane Eyre) ends up inspiring other aspects of the plot.

3) I liked how the author had Miss Cowper’s “County Literacy Unit” fit into solving one of Doug’s problems in the book. I love this teacher.

4) The Baseball Quiz/Game at the work picnic for Doug’s father’s work was a fun chapter. Especially in light of the fact that Doug is dealing with some hard things at this time and here he really is able to shine. He’s the one that is able to help his “partner” go for the gold.

5) I loved the character growth and arcs for Doug’s brothers, his father, Coach Reed, Principal Peattie, et al.

6) The relationship with Lil is very sweet.

7) I liked how Schmidt worked the various themes into the book… The flowers (or lack of flowers) for his mother show the growth and the family’s ability to flourish (or not flourish). And the use of the various stages of the Apollo moon mission (Apollos 8 through 11) also is used well to show how much hope and hard work can accomplish.

8) Doug has a great voice in this book.

WHAT’S NOT COOL…

1) I felt that some of the teachers/classes were not necessary to mention. I kept getting some of the lesser ones mixed up with the teachers we needed to know about. (For example: I think the Geography teacher could have disappeared from the book and nothing bad would have happened.)

2) In one of the chapters, Doug lists the birds that are missing from the book. I wish this list had been repeated later on in the book with an update on which birds had been successfully retrieved and which ones were still missing. I even tried to go back to find that first list and couldn’t find it easily. That annoyed me.

3) The title of this book is just… OKAY. (Ha ha!) The Wednesday Wars (the companion book) is a great title. Okay for Now… Hmm, not so memorable. (I keep having to look it up to know what it is!)

FAVOURITE QUOTE

Can you imagine anyone buying tickets to Jane Eyre?

Can you imagine Joe Pepitone buying tickets to Jane Eyre?

Me neither.

FINAL THOUGHTS

My rating is 4 Stars (out of 5) – Okay, so I LOVED The Wednesday Wars by the same author. This is a companion book and I LOVED this one just as much (almost as much?). If these two books had to be ranked in which one I liked better, I don’t know who would win. 🙂


YOUR TURN…

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!