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

ARC Review: Earthrise

earthriseEarthrise // by James Gladstone
Release Date: October 15, 2018
Genre: Picture Book, Non-Fiction (Space)

**Note: I received a free copy of this title from the people at NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**

Basic Plot: This is the story behind the photograph of the earth taken by the Apollo 8 astronauts back in 1968; and how such a photo led to a different view of our world.

WHAT’S COOL…

1) I love that the illustrations evoke the 1960s. They are wonderfully done!

2) I love photography, so I found this story particularly interesting. It’s a little behind-the-scenes “snapshot” at how one of the most famous photographs of all time came to be.

3) The story juxtaposes a tumultuous time (1968) with a photograph that is anything but tumultuous. It’s simple and beautiful and serene.

WHAT’S NOT COOL…

1) I feel like this could be made for older children with a little more text. Maybe explaining a few things. History-wise. This was the year that Martin Luther King was shot. And Robert Kennedy. And a war in Vietnam. They didn’t have to go into extreme detail, but maybe at least mention MLK.

FINAL THOUGHTS

My rating is 4 Stars (out of 5) – A wonderfully illustrated book about this moment in history. I’d recommend for 1st through 3rd grade. Maybe Kindergarten?

Review: Apollo 8

Apollo-8-Cover-GalleyCat.jpgBook: Apollo 8
Author: Jeffrey Kluger
Rating: 4 Stars

Basic plot: The true story behind the space mission of Apollo 8… How astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders were the first to orbit the moon in 1968.

WHAT’S COOL…

1) The subtitle of the book is: The Thrilling Story of the First Mission to the Moon. For a space mission that really had no mishaps and went off pretty much like clockwork, Kluger somehow does indeed make it a “thrilling story”. What a story-telling gift!

2) This book brought NASA in the Gemini and Apollo eras to life like no other book I’ve read. I finally understand who some of the personalities were and what they actually did during in the space program. People like Chris Kraft and Deke Slayton and Gene Kranz, in addition to the astronauts themselves and their wives. And Kluger made all of them into real people.

3) The story of the Apollo 1 disaster was heartbreaking. Very well-written.

4) I really liked how he handled the Christmas message. He was able to use story-telling to create anticipation for an event that I already knew about!

5) I also like how the tragic events of 1968 (such as the war in Vietnam and the assassinations of MLK and RFK) were juxtaposed against this amazingly optimistic achievement. Especially amazing is how the author ties it all together in the final chapter with a telegram received by one of the astronauts.

6) I loved the cover. Very sleek, yet appropriate. Especially cool is how the lettering looks like a Saturn V rocket.

WHAT’S NOT COOL…

1) Hmm? Anything? Radio blackout, here. Nothing to report.

FINAL THOUGHTS

My rating is 4 Stars (out of 5) – I like space books and I enjoyed this one very much! Bonus on the audio book version which has an interview with Frank Borman, the commander of Apollo 8, as well as audio soundbites from the mission itself!