1969 will forever be a year that epitomizes what America was all about back then and how we would look at the future.
- The famous musical festival Woodstock took place on a New York farm with nearly a half million concert goers in attendance.
- War demonstrations were common as the Vietnam War continued.
- Up to a billion people watched Neil Armstrong become the first human to walk on the moon.
This last event is the focus for this new book, but it’s not about Neil Armstrong. It’s about the man who was left behind to orbit the moon while his two comrades received the glory of being the first. Mention the name Neil Armstrong or Buzz Aldrin and many will recognize the names. Michael Collins? Not so much.
This endearing story puts you in Mamie’s ten year old world at the time. Life is not treating her the best, but she writes letters to Michael Collins detailing her family problems and why she likes him the best of all the astronauts. One school assignment turns into a series of letters that make up the “chapters” of the book.
This view into life in 1969 couldn’t be any clearer with the images put forth through Mamie’s words. Fruit Loops, Cap’n Crunch, phones on the wall, Erector sets, and good old Tang to name a few. Try living today with one electric fan passed around the house to be plugged into the nearest outlet to give at least one person some relief. I was also reminded how different it was being a kid in those days. Unsupervised play was the norm and home alone often became a necessity.
The subtle charm in this story won me over. Give it a go yourself if you need a perfect snapshot of 1969 in an upbeat story filled with hope.
PUBLICATION DATE: 2017 PAGE COUNT: 240
FULL PLOT (From AMAZON) It’s 1969 and the country is gearing up for what looks to be the most exciting moment in U.S. history: men landing on the moon. Ten-year-old Mamie’s class is given an assignment to write letters to the astronauts. All the girls write to Neil Armstrong (“So cute!”) and all the boys write to Buzz Aldrin (“So cool!”). Only Mamie writes to Michael Collins, the astronaut who will come so close but never achieve everyone else’s dream of walking on the moon, because he is the one who must stay with the ship. After school ends, Mamie keeps writing to Michael Collins, taking comfort in telling someone about what’s going on with her family as, one by one, they leave the house thinking that someone else is taking care of her―until she is all alone except for her cat and her best friend, Buster. And as the date of the launch nears, Mamie can’t help but wonder: Does no one stay with the ship anymore? With I LOVE YOU, MICHAEL COLLINS, Lauren Baratz-Logsted has created a heartwarming story about family and being true to yourself.
FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT: I LOVE YOU, MICHAEL COLLINS by Lauren Baratz-Logsted
- Everyone needs a Buster Whitaker in their life. He’s Mamie’s one friend—kind, considerate, and his view of friendship is something we could all learn from.
- The parallels of Mamie and Michael Collins were beautifully exposed as they both became the ones left behind.
- It’s a quick read, and the storytelling will have those normally not in tune with historical fiction liking the ride for the first time.
- The cover and the title. Yes, I loved them both.
- Themes of bravery and loyalty will have me nodding in agreement every time I think of this book.
FAVORITE LINES: Of course, I used to wonder why I didn’t have a lot of friends, but I didn’t have an answer for it. Now I think it might have something to do with that question Mrs. Collins my teacher asked us, about what we want to be when we grow and the boys said they wanted to be astronauts and the girls said they wanted to marry the astronauts and I said I didn’t know. And I don’t. So maybe that’s why I’m not popular: because other people always seem so sure of what they want and where they’re going and I just never seem to know.
WHAT ELSE DO I KNOW:
Lauren Baratz-Logsted writes for adults, teens, and kids. You can see all of her books on her website.
Michael Collins is retired and will turn 87 on Halloween.
Make a comment if you have time. I enjoy reading all of them. Click on the comments link below.
Check the links to other Middle Grade novels over at Shannon Messenger’s Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post.