From Publishers Weekly
It's July 1969 and while the attention of everyone else in her Long Island neighborhood is on the impending moonwalk, Tamara Ann Simpson's focus is the black hole created by the sudden departure of her best friend, Kebsie, a foster child who lived across the street. She directs her considerable anger at Douglas McGinty, the new foster kid, whom she ironically dubs "Muscle Man." In her self-absorbed grief, Tammy fails to see that the whoppers Douglas tells-he's training for the 1972 Olympics, he's sung on Broadway-are his way of coping with a major loss of his own. "Muscle Man McGinty is a squirrelly runt, a lying snake, and a pitiful excuse for a ten-year old," Tammy's narration begins. "The problem is.... only I can see him for what he really is." Indeed, among the well-realized cast of scruffy neighborhood pals, no one joins Tammy's campaign to unmask Muscle Man as a phony. But author Marino, in her debut, pulls off the neat trick of having created a sullen, feisty protagonist who is worthy of redemption. Ages 8-12.
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From School Library Journal
Grade 3–6—Tamara Ann Simpson has a problem—10-year-old Muscle Man McGinty. It's the summer of 1969, and Neil Armstrong is about to take his first steps on the moon. Muscle Man has moved to Tamara's street, into her former best friend's house, and has the audacity to be the world's biggest liar. While it aggravates Tamara that no one else seems to notice his whoppers, she takes her irritation too far and lets it nearly consume her. A tragedy, a true story, and a heart-felt plea may be able to change her mind before it's too late. The characters that inhabit Ramble Street are voiced by Emily Bauer. She has a good grasp of Tamara's personality. While her voices for some of the boys are not completely unique, it doesn't detract from the story because the neighborhood kids are almost the Greek chorus and, as such, at times speak as one voice. Nan Marino's debut novel (Roaring Brook Press, 2009) is poignant and witty.—Laura Davies, Kenton County Public Library, Independence, KY
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