By Awnali Mills
Ten year old Mamie’s last assignment before leaving school in June of 1969 is to write a letter to an astronaut. Everyone else chooses Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, but Mamie feels sorry for Michael Collins, since no one is writing to him. She decides that he’s the best of the astronauts, and decides to write him herself. Although he doesn’t write her back, he becomes her confidant. As she writes him, she tells him about her family which is spiraling out of control. One by one, everyone, including the cat, leaves her behind. Mamie and her best friend, Buster, learn more and more about the moon landing, and everything Buster tells her scares Mamie. She worries about Collins’ safety, and whether he’s lonely on the dark side of the moon. She and Buster are on the edge of their seats, waiting for the astronauts to come home safely.
I ADORED this book. Mamie is such a sweet girl, who is being forgotten by her family. Each of them is concerned with their own needs, and one by one they leave her alone at the house. Mamie is trying desperately to hold onto her family, and she strongly identifies with Michael Collins, left alone aboard the ship, out of the limelight, but the key to everyone’s survival. Baratz-Logsted, through Mamie’s letters, give us a history lesson on the moon landing, and a picture of life during the late ‘60s. It’s weird to think that stuff I lived through (I was too young to remember) is now historical fiction. Let’s not discuss this, mm-kay?
I got teary at the end of the book, and spend hours discussing it with my husband. I’d recommend the book for anyone who loves historical fiction, space, or books written as letters. Great for grades 3-5.