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Maniac Magee

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Jeffrey Lionel "Maniac" Magee might have lived a normal life if a freak accident hadn't made him an orphan. After living with his unhappy and uptight aunt and uncle for eight years, he decides to run--and not just run away, but run. This is where the myth of Maniac Magee begins, as he changes the lives of a racially divided small town with his amazing and legendary feats. Jeffrey Lionel "Maniac" Magee might have lived a normal life if a freak accident hadn't made him an orphan. After living with his unhappy and uptight aunt and uncle for eight years, he decides to run--and not just run away, but run. This is where the myth of Maniac Magee begins, as he changes the lives of a racially divided small town with his amazing and legendary feats.


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Jeffrey Lionel "Maniac" Magee might have lived a normal life if a freak accident hadn't made him an orphan. After living with his unhappy and uptight aunt and uncle for eight years, he decides to run--and not just run away, but run. This is where the myth of Maniac Magee begins, as he changes the lives of a racially divided small town with his amazing and legendary feats. Jeffrey Lionel "Maniac" Magee might have lived a normal life if a freak accident hadn't made him an orphan. After living with his unhappy and uptight aunt and uncle for eight years, he decides to run--and not just run away, but run. This is where the myth of Maniac Magee begins, as he changes the lives of a racially divided small town with his amazing and legendary feats.

30 review for Maniac Magee

  1. 5 out of 5

    David

    He wasn't born with the name Maniac Magee. He came into this world named Jeffrey Lionel Magee, but when his parents died and his life changed, so did his name. Maniac Magee took to the streets. And Maniac Magee became a legend. Even today kids talk about how fast he could run; about how he hit an inside-the-park "frog" homer; how no knot, no matter how snarled, would stay that way once he began to untie it. Little girls jumping rope chant: "Ma-niac, Ma-niac He's so cool Ma-niac, Ma-niac Don't go t He wasn't born with the name Maniac Magee. He came into this world named Jeffrey Lionel Magee, but when his parents died and his life changed, so did his name. Maniac Magee took to the streets. And Maniac Magee became a legend. Even today kids talk about how fast he could run; about how he hit an inside-the-park "frog" homer; how no knot, no matter how snarled, would stay that way once he began to untie it. Little girls jumping rope chant: "Ma-niac, Ma-niac He's so cool Ma-niac, Ma-niac Don't go to school Runs all night Runs all right Ma-niac, Ma-niac Kissed a bull!" But the thing Maniac Magee is best known for is what he did for the kids from the East Side and those from the West Side. He was special all right, and this is his story, and it's a story that is very careful not to let the facts get mixed up with the truth. Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli, Scholastic Inc. 2002.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    I really didn't enjoy this book. I feel like the story didn't really go anywhere. Spinelli tried to touch on issues of racial prejudice and poverty, and let the exsistance of those issues carry his story. It didn't work. However because there are touchy issues, it becomes a story that isn't easy to complain about. However I'll be brave enough to say, "I didn't like it!". As a personal note, I do not find this novel appropriate for children still in gradeschool. I really didn't enjoy this book. I feel like the story didn't really go anywhere. Spinelli tried to touch on issues of racial prejudice and poverty, and let the exsistance of those issues carry his story. It didn't work. However because there are touchy issues, it becomes a story that isn't easy to complain about. However I'll be brave enough to say, "I didn't like it!". As a personal note, I do not find this novel appropriate for children still in gradeschool.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Dawn

    A really neat book. Excellent! Definitely deserving of its Newbery Award. I think I have to give it a 5! I find myself asking, "Why didn't I ever read this before?" I've certainly heard of it for years. My fourth grade daughter just read it at school and loved it. I really enjoyed the narrative voice and style. It starts out almost like a tall tale, but what Maniac really accomplished is better than a legend. So it's a meaningful story that teaches an important lesson without being preachy. The A really neat book. Excellent! Definitely deserving of its Newbery Award. I think I have to give it a 5! I find myself asking, "Why didn't I ever read this before?" I've certainly heard of it for years. My fourth grade daughter just read it at school and loved it. I really enjoyed the narrative voice and style. It starts out almost like a tall tale, but what Maniac really accomplished is better than a legend. So it's a meaningful story that teaches an important lesson without being preachy. The quick pace of the story matches the speedy main character. He is very appealing. I liked his courage, kindness, humility, joy in life and desire to help others. I was impressed that he was the way he was despite his history. It was amazing how he turned enemies to friends and brought out the best in people just by being himself, just by his example. Some of my favorite parts were when he befriended the old maintenance man at the zoo. I also appreciated the happy ending. I've heard other Spinelli books recommended, too--I'll have to read more.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sasha

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I HATED IT. Plot: A little boy named Maniac's parents had a tragic death. He lives with his stupid aunt and uncle who should get a divorce. During a march of the animals or whatever school play, he shouts like Harry in the fifth and runs into the onion smelling night. He lives with animals and eats animal food. He is not very happy. :o He meets an old guy who used to play baseball. He dies. Maniac lives with animals again! etc... DON'T READ IT. I HATED IT. Plot: A little boy named Maniac's parents had a tragic death. He lives with his stupid aunt and uncle who should get a divorce. During a march of the animals or whatever school play, he shouts like Harry in the fifth and runs into the onion smelling night. He lives with animals and eats animal food. He is not very happy. :o He meets an old guy who used to play baseball. He dies. Maniac lives with animals again! etc... DON'T READ IT.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    Re-read in prep for teaching it to my younger group of kids this year. The structure of the book lends itself very well to teaching it in chunks and to illustrate its points clearly, which isn't why it's a classic of early middle school, I assume. Extra star for that- looking forward to discussions that arise from it. Re-read in prep for teaching it to my younger group of kids this year. The structure of the book lends itself very well to teaching it in chunks and to illustrate its points clearly, which isn't why it's a classic of early middle school, I assume. Extra star for that- looking forward to discussions that arise from it.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey Mohr

    This book is one of my favorite books to use when I work with students. It approaches the concept of “race” and “racism” through the eyes of someone that just wants to make friends and doesn't understand why people would treat others differently just because of their looks. It also treats the main character as a whole person and shows the turmoil he goes through while dealing with the loss of loved ones and the sadness and depression that can result from that. Students need to see books that don This book is one of my favorite books to use when I work with students. It approaches the concept of “race” and “racism” through the eyes of someone that just wants to make friends and doesn't understand why people would treat others differently just because of their looks. It also treats the main character as a whole person and shows the turmoil he goes through while dealing with the loss of loved ones and the sadness and depression that can result from that. Students need to see books that don't gloss over the dark side of life but show how a character can go through the darkness and come out the other side by making friends and building relationships. It also introduces the idea that a family doesn't just have to be those you are related to but can be those people who want you to come home and are genuinely interested and delighted in having you in their life. In summary, this book can be used to broach a lot of different subjects with students from racism to dealing with death. I have personally recommended this book to help a boy I worked with deal with his dad's passing and it helped him a lot since he could see how someone went through the same emotions as him and how that character found the light again after. This book is great for upper elementary school and even into middle school when used properly.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Colleen Venable

    Last week I came across a pile of free books on the ground...all copies of MANIAC MAGEE. I took one, knowing it was supposed to be good, but knowing nothing of the plot. It made me cry three times—twice because of the actual story of a homeless boy who brings together the white and black sides of a small town—but I cried the hardest because it felt so poignant given the sad craziness in the country right now. I don't talk politics online, mostly because my own personal believe system is simply " Last week I came across a pile of free books on the ground...all copies of MANIAC MAGEE. I took one, knowing it was supposed to be good, but knowing nothing of the plot. It made me cry three times—twice because of the actual story of a homeless boy who brings together the white and black sides of a small town—but I cried the hardest because it felt so poignant given the sad craziness in the country right now. I don't talk politics online, mostly because my own personal believe system is simply "don't be a jerk" and "if you are nice to people it'll spread", but if you know a kid, or really anyone who is sad and confused by what happened in Ferguson/Staten Island this book is a great place to start the conversation. Thank you to whatever stranger left it out for me. My copy will return to the streets, just like Magee himself, and hopefully find the hands of someone else in need of a little hope.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rodolfo A.

    I love this book because is telling me the time when black people and white people were seperted. This book is realistic fiction because there and made up characters but,this happend real that black people and white people were seperted. Maniac parents died from a trolly crash.Maniac didn't have any were to live so,he is an orphan.He met a girl name Amanda.Maniac wentto amanda's house and lived with her.Later he met a boy name mar bars.Some people from the west side and east side haet him so, he went to I love this book because is telling me the time when black people and white people were seperted. This book is realistic fiction because there and made up characters but,this happend real that black people and white people were seperted. Maniac parents died from a trolly crash.Maniac didn't have any were to live so,he is an orphan.He met a girl name Amanda.Maniac wentto amanda's house and lived with her.Later he met a boy name mar bars.Some people from the west side and east side haet him so, he went to the middle of the line.A person name Grason he helped maniac and took him to his home. My questions are,Why Mar Bars was bad to maniac? Why Maniac went to amanda's house? I remember when Martin Later King was fighting the world to gange the law. I would recomember this book to my teacher becuase it tll us the time when black people and white people were seperted.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Shanu

    "Maniac loved the colors of the East End, the people colors. For the life of him, he couldn't figure why these East Enders called themselves black. He kept looking and looking, and the colors he found were gingersnap and light fudge and dark fudge and acorn and butter rum and cinnamon and burnt orange. But never licorice, which, to him, was real black." Oh, you precious little freak. I don't really follow the thought that if people stopped talking about color of skin, then racism would disappear- a "Maniac loved the colors of the East End, the people colors. For the life of him, he couldn't figure why these East Enders called themselves black. He kept looking and looking, and the colors he found were gingersnap and light fudge and dark fudge and acorn and butter rum and cinnamon and burnt orange. But never licorice, which, to him, was real black." Oh, you precious little freak. I don't really follow the thought that if people stopped talking about color of skin, then racism would disappear- and that' what Spinelli promotes through Maniac's sweet innocent voice. "Maniac kept trying, but he still couldn't see it, this color business. He didn't figure he was white any more than the East Enders were black." -2,5 stars because you just gotta love jeffrey -Good message, poor execution -short and easy to read -funny and weird and sad

  10. 5 out of 5

    bettiek

    'Maniac Magee" by Jerry Spinelli is about a little boy named Jeffrey Lionel Magee. When he was only three years old, his parents died in a P&W high-speed trolley accident. Magee was then sent to his nearest relatives, Aunt Dot and Uncle Dan. However, he didn't like his life there. One day, when Magee was already 11, he finally decided to leave the house. He ran a long long way from Hollidaysburg all the way to Two Mills and started his new life there. Magee would live in the zoo and sleep with t 'Maniac Magee" by Jerry Spinelli is about a little boy named Jeffrey Lionel Magee. When he was only three years old, his parents died in a P&W high-speed trolley accident. Magee was then sent to his nearest relatives, Aunt Dot and Uncle Dan. However, he didn't like his life there. One day, when Magee was already 11, he finally decided to leave the house. He ran a long long way from Hollidaysburg all the way to Two Mills and started his new life there. Magee would live in the zoo and sleep with the animals, but one day he met this girl named Amanda Beale. He was welcomed into the Beale's house and lived there for a while. Then he lived with a man named Grayson, and when he died, he lived with Giant John and his family. Everyone calls him Maniac Magee…

  11. 5 out of 5

    Nelson B.

    Jerry spinelli is one of the best witers ever. Maniac Magee is a realistic fictionbook because maniac is invented but it could happen in real life.The perents of Maniac Magee died in a trolley crash.Maniac Magee was an orphan so his aunt and uncle adoped him.Maniac did"t like their house because they cant share.One day Maniac ran away because the hated in his aunt and uncle house.When he left he went to Two mills.In TWO MILLS it is white V.S black.I have schema with this book because maniac put Jerry spinelli is one of the best witers ever. Maniac Magee is a realistic fictionbook because maniac is invented but it could happen in real life.The perents of Maniac Magee died in a trolley crash.Maniac Magee was an orphan so his aunt and uncle adoped him.Maniac did"t like their house because they cant share.One day Maniac ran away because the hated in his aunt and uncle house.When he left he went to Two mills.In TWO MILLS it is white V.S black.I have schema with this book because maniac put a lean on a wall so he can sleep so when I went to Mexico me and uncle went to swim and one day it was going to rain so we were swiming so we did a lean on the wall.I also have schema when Maniac was hungry so he kept sayingcan we get some butter scoch krimpets because one day I did not eat for a daysowe were hungry so keptm telling my dad gom buy kintuky fried chicken.My question is why does nobody know that blak and white are the same?I remember when the old man told maniac to to the white side of town.this happened when maniac ,Hester and Lester were swiming.I recommed this book to teachers so they can teach their kids that blak and white are the same.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Karina Escajeda

    Welp, I had heard about this book for so long that I wanted to like it more, but I found myself caught up in 'wait this was written in 1990?' confusion. It just doesn't ring true on issues of race and class in the US, a white guy is trying to write about black issues, for a white audience that become voyeurs. Also, it's super sexist, with traditional 'mom' roles throughout. And Mainiac somehow managed to become a white savior at age 12. It's just awful. Welp, I had heard about this book for so long that I wanted to like it more, but I found myself caught up in 'wait this was written in 1990?' confusion. It just doesn't ring true on issues of race and class in the US, a white guy is trying to write about black issues, for a white audience that become voyeurs. Also, it's super sexist, with traditional 'mom' roles throughout. And Mainiac somehow managed to become a white savior at age 12. It's just awful.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Fox

    Maniac Magee is a book that stuck with me long after I read it in fifth grade for the first time. It stuck with me more than in just a life-long love of Butterscotch Krumpets, but also in the sweetness of the main character and the good that he finds in - well, everyone. Everyone wants to belong in some way, and often all it takes is a listening ear and sincerity to find the way to that person's heart. This book shows that in a way that is accessible to a kid, touching to an adult, and just... Maniac Magee is a book that stuck with me long after I read it in fifth grade for the first time. It stuck with me more than in just a life-long love of Butterscotch Krumpets, but also in the sweetness of the main character and the good that he finds in - well, everyone. Everyone wants to belong in some way, and often all it takes is a listening ear and sincerity to find the way to that person's heart. This book shows that in a way that is accessible to a kid, touching to an adult, and just... soulful. Little is as pure and wonderful as this book. Maniac Magee is a legend. As a young boy he runs away from home from his fighting aunt and uncle, and finds himself in a series of houses, deer pens, bison pens, and baseball shells. He meets people along the way - white, black, old, and young. He meets people in poverty, people with strange perspectives. He proves himself on the streets, but with honor - never stealing, never cheating. He's a good kid, and he's cool. The best part is - this never comes off as preachy, never comes off as forced or insincere. This is a compelling book, with all the gasped excitement of gossip on a schoolyard. Jerry Spinelli is a wonderful writer, and he gets what makes kids tick. This book lived up to my expectations, and even surpassed them. I loved every second of it, an am glad to hear it's still on school's reading lists. This is a fun book to read, and I'm sure kids are liking it now as much as my class did when I read it. Who wouldn't love Maniac, Mars Bar, Amanda, and Earl? I don't know how anyone could actively dislike this book.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Maddie

    This book is quite possibly one of the most poorly written works of fiction I have ever had the misfortune to stumble upon. I personally am not a fan of Jerry Spinelli (with the exception of Stargirl), and thought I would give him one last shot. Not only was the writing itself unbearable and slow, the topic is overused and cliché. The emotions are few and far between. Throw in there a sad, pathetic kid whose life does not improve whatsoever and some other worthless surface characters and you hav This book is quite possibly one of the most poorly written works of fiction I have ever had the misfortune to stumble upon. I personally am not a fan of Jerry Spinelli (with the exception of Stargirl), and thought I would give him one last shot. Not only was the writing itself unbearable and slow, the topic is overused and cliché. The emotions are few and far between. Throw in there a sad, pathetic kid whose life does not improve whatsoever and some other worthless surface characters and you have the trainwreck that is Maniac Magee. Never again shall I waste time with one of his books. It might just be me, but almost all of Jerry Spinelli's protagonists have tragic, horrible lives (which I get, I totally understand the appeal), but the lives of these characters never turn positive--Loser, Milkweed, even Stargirl! Maniac Magee is no exception. None of his stories really have tangible plots. This book made me feel absolutely nothing--except joy that I have FINALLY found a book horrible enough to douse in kerosene and throw in the fireplace. Isn't the point of reading to feel some sort of happiness?

  15. 4 out of 5

    Victor The Reader

    A surprisingly witty and emotional story about a boy who becomes someone special in a segregated town. Jeffrey Lionel Magee, before he becomes “Maniac”, loses his parents in a tragic accident and is sent to live with his uncle and aunt who have a far from happy marriage. Unable to put up with it, he abruptly runs away and keeps running for miles and miles and finds himself in the town of Two Mills, which is divided by Eastenders and Westenders. He starts to become part of many people’s lives and A surprisingly witty and emotional story about a boy who becomes someone special in a segregated town. Jeffrey Lionel Magee, before he becomes “Maniac”, loses his parents in a tragic accident and is sent to live with his uncle and aunt who have a far from happy marriage. Unable to put up with it, he abruptly runs away and keeps running for miles and miles and finds himself in the town of Two Mills, which is divided by Eastenders and Westenders. He starts to become part of many people’s lives and how it will impact both sides. For a short novel, it’s one that humorous most of the time while also being emotional and serious at times. It manages to be a near-perfect novel that kinda leaves you with questions about this lovable “maniac”. A- (91%/Excellent)

  16. 5 out of 5

    Aj Sterkel

    This actually isn’t the first time I’ve listened to Maniac Magee. A teacher read it to our class when I was 9 or 10 years old. All I remembered about it was that the main character could run really fast. Yeah. My nine-year-old self completely missed the point of most literature, but I remember enjoying the story. Maniac Magee stars a homeless kid (who can run really fast). He finds himself in a racially segregated town and impresses both the black kids and the white kids with his extraordinary at This actually isn’t the first time I’ve listened to Maniac Magee. A teacher read it to our class when I was 9 or 10 years old. All I remembered about it was that the main character could run really fast. Yeah. My nine-year-old self completely missed the point of most literature, but I remember enjoying the story. Maniac Magee stars a homeless kid (who can run really fast). He finds himself in a racially segregated town and impresses both the black kids and the white kids with his extraordinary athletic abilities. They nickname him “Maniac Magee.” This is a character-driven novel that follows Maniac’s quest to find a home and to bring his two groups of friends together. (One of his challenges works out better than the other.) I can see why I liked this book as a child: It sucks the reader in right away. The story is told with hindsight. Maniac has become a legend in the town, and I immediately wanted to know what he’d done to earn the respect of so many children. Maniac is an endearing character. He badly wants a family, but he feels like he’s a burden to people because he attracts trouble wherever he goes. The characters are where this novel shines. They’re unique, and they really bring the town to life. The audiobook narrator, S. Epatha Merkerson, does an excellent job of injecting personality into the dialogue. “[T]he history of a kid is one part fact, two parts legend, and three parts snowball. And if you want to know what it was like back when Maniac Magee roamed these parts, well, just run your hand under your movie seat and be very, very careful not to let the facts get mixed up with the truth.” – Maniac Magee Overall, I enjoyed this book, but I do have a few quibbles with it. First, the adults seem supremely unconcerned that there’s a homeless, parentless child in their town. For a while, Maniac lives in the buffalo enclosure at the zoo. Everybody just shrugs about it. Buffalos are dangerous! The adult characters feed Maniac and let him stay at their houses, but they don’t alert Child Protective Services or try to find out where he came from. They also don’t seem very concerned when he runs away and doesn’t come back. As a child reader, I probably overlooked the irresponsible behavior of the adult characters, but as an adult, it freaked me out. You don’t let a child sleep with the buffalos! What is wrong with you, people? I also rolled my eyes at Maniac’s cluelessness about race. He lives in a town that’s on the brink of a race war, but he can’t tell what makes a person black or white? I’m not buying it. However, I did buy the reactions of the characters to Maniac’s friendships. When he attempts to bring his black friends and his white friends together, things don’t go well. Maniac becomes the target of abuse from both sides when he (a white kid) moves in with a black family. I like that Maniac is unable to solve the town’s problems. Racism is a bigger issue than one child can fix. I’ve felt “meh” about a lot of Newbery winners, but I really liked this one. It’s well-written, and the audiobook narrator makes it a fun listening experience. Do you like opinions, giveaways, and bookish nonsense? I have a blog for that.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Patti Richards

    Wow! Maniac Magee has to be one of the best middle grade novels I have ever read. The storyline is fascinating, but the mixture of reality, conjecture and legend is what kept me turning pages. I loved the hero, and I especially love the family from the “other side of town” that takes him in. They way they pour love into his lost little soul is amazing and very believable. I also really liked the way the author removed him from that home and gave him the ability to love the old man. Had he gone t Wow! Maniac Magee has to be one of the best middle grade novels I have ever read. The storyline is fascinating, but the mixture of reality, conjecture and legend is what kept me turning pages. I loved the hero, and I especially love the family from the “other side of town” that takes him in. They way they pour love into his lost little soul is amazing and very believable. I also really liked the way the author removed him from that home and gave him the ability to love the old man. Had he gone there first, I don’t think his ability to give and receive love would have been nearly as developed. The final place he stops for a while is the classic idea of someone trying to do for the two little boys what no one had done for Maniac when he was a young child. The reader senses his frustration and genuine fear for their safety and well-being. The theme of the bitterness of racism prevails throughout the story, but Maniac’s ability to be colorblind and love unconditionally no matter where he finds himself is a unique and fresh approach. Jerry Spinelli does more than just tell Maniac’s story, he weaves the very fabric of his life until he finally comes home for the last time.

  18. 5 out of 5

    serprex

    I stayed up all night reading this one. Finished it the next day, as it was a Friday PD day. 6th grade. Teacher came up with a set of topics & each student was assigned a topic. I was given the topic of the knot, some little plot device in the middle of the book. I was pretty annoyed that a girl in the class was assigned the widescale topic of the character, & demonstrated that she didn't get past the first chapter when she stated that they called him maniac magee because he was yelling like a m I stayed up all night reading this one. Finished it the next day, as it was a Friday PD day. 6th grade. Teacher came up with a set of topics & each student was assigned a topic. I was given the topic of the knot, some little plot device in the middle of the book. I was pretty annoyed that a girl in the class was assigned the widescale topic of the character, & demonstrated that she didn't get past the first chapter when she stated that they called him maniac magee because he was yelling like a maniac whereas in the following chapters they state explicitly that he gained the name because people said he was running like a maniac

  19. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Clausen

    I still can't find the words to express what this book means to me. When I was in fifth grade reading this book, I felt like Magee. This book is as deep and soulful as any book that has ever been written for adults. I hope it remains on elementary school reading lists for years to come. I still can't find the words to express what this book means to me. When I was in fifth grade reading this book, I felt like Magee. This book is as deep and soulful as any book that has ever been written for adults. I hope it remains on elementary school reading lists for years to come.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Elysa

    Really good book! I read it more than once!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Munroe

    The ending of the book wasn't as I would think the writer would've ended it. Some parts of the book were confusing and hard to understand. The ending of the book wasn't as I would think the writer would've ended it. Some parts of the book were confusing and hard to understand.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Shel

    Spinelli, J. (1990). Maniac Magee. New York: Little, Brown and Company. 0316809063 As an orphan, Jeffrey Magee is sent to live with his aunt and uncle who live separately within their house and refuse to share anything. At the age of eleven, Jeffrey, unable to deal with his aunt and uncle’s refusal to interact or communicate, runs away. A year later, he appears in a strictly racially segregated town, doing amazing feats and running like a mad man, earning him the nickname, Maniac. Quick to make Spinelli, J. (1990). Maniac Magee. New York: Little, Brown and Company. 0316809063 As an orphan, Jeffrey Magee is sent to live with his aunt and uncle who live separately within their house and refuse to share anything. At the age of eleven, Jeffrey, unable to deal with his aunt and uncle’s refusal to interact or communicate, runs away. A year later, he appears in a strictly racially segregated town, doing amazing feats and running like a mad man, earning him the nickname, Maniac. Quick to make both friends and enemies, Maniac searches for a home. This Newbery Winning story, without a clear setting in time, deals extensively with issues of race and segregation. Maniac, who is initially completely naïve of issues of race, seems almost too naïve. What is more, the fact that no character ever reports Magee’s homelessness to the authorities may make this classic story difficult to accept for some adults. Also present in the book are issues of literacy. Despite his refusal to go to school, Maniac loves to read. He also takes on the role of teacher, helping an older man he befriends learn to read. In the past, the presence of this book in schools and libraries has been challenged in some communities for the fact that it could encourage children to run away or quite school. The beginning of the story, intrigued me most. Spinelli’s narrator takes on the voice similar to that of a folklorist, examining the legend, the myth, the boy that is Maniac Magee. This may lead readers to interpret this book as a tall tale instead of realistic fiction. This should be encouraged, especially with students who have trouble with some of the more painful aspects of the text. Activities to do with the book: This is a good book to discuss topics of race, segregation, school truancy, homelessness and loss. This is also a good way to introduce the idea of ‘whiteness.’ To help students visualize the text, they could create maps of Two Mills, reinforcing the division between the sides of the town. Students could then create a second map, trying to unify the town. Other techniques used with the text include making Venn diagrams, comparing and contrasting characters that have parallel positions. Also, students could examine the characterization of Maniac as a transgressor. Favorite Quotes “The history of a kid is one part fact, two parts legend, and three parts snowball. And if you want to know what it was like back when Maniac Magee roamed these parts, well, just run your hand under your movie seat and be very, very careful not to let the facts get mixed up with the truth” (p. 2). “If you listen to everybody who claims to have seen Jeffrey-Maniac Magee that first day, there must have been ten thousand people and a parade of fire trucks waiting for him at the town limits. Don’t believe it. A couple of people truly remember, and here’s what they saw: a scraggly little kid jogging toward them, the soles of both sneakers hanging by their hinges and flopping open like dog tongues each time the came up from the pavement” (p. 9). “For the life of him, he couldn’t figure why these East Enders called themselves black. He kept looking and looking, and the colors he found were gingersnap and light fudge and dark fudge and acorn and butter rum and cinnamon and burnt orange. But never licorice, which, to him, was real black” (p. 51). For more of my reviews, visit sjkessel.blogspot.com

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer (JenIsNotaBookSnob)

    First of all, the writing is peppy and the kids are fun- I'd like to try another Spinelli book. This one isn't a recommended read for modern children though because of the inadequate way that race is handled. If you loved this book, you may want to skip the rest of my review below. Problematic. This book is supposedly about a kid name Maniac Magee but is really just a cringefest of race relations in a segregated town. I wasn't able to catch on to whether or not this book actually takes place dur First of all, the writing is peppy and the kids are fun- I'd like to try another Spinelli book. This one isn't a recommended read for modern children though because of the inadequate way that race is handled. If you loved this book, you may want to skip the rest of my review below. Problematic. This book is supposedly about a kid name Maniac Magee but is really just a cringefest of race relations in a segregated town. I wasn't able to catch on to whether or not this book actually takes place during segregation or if it was just one of those towns that is still mostly segregated on the old lines despite the decades that have passed. This could have been an alright book except for a couple of things. First of all, kids absolutely do see color. Give me a break. Prejudice is a natural human tendency that you ward off in your kids by actually taking the time to teach them not to be bigots. I'm sure there's some naturally outgoing kids who see differences a bit less, but, everybody sees it. Another issue I had with the book was that this kid Maniac Magee is just naturally good at everything despite his poor upbringing in a dysfunctional household. Seriously? So despite a poor home life and poor nutrition he is just automatically the best at everything, even sports he hasn't played before? This is where the book gets a serious 'white savior' complex. Guess what? I've worked around kids that have been raised in households that are dysfunctional, you know that they can't do? Untie a knot that no one else could untie. I promise you, those kids can barely tie their own shoelaces or use scissors to cut out more than basic shapes; they aren't untangling a knot no one else could do. Can a kid who has grown up like Maniac Magee have a special talent? Sure, what would have been believable is if he was just fast, winning races and stuff. That makes sense, kid's been a runaway for a year with nothing to do but runaround town. That checks out. How would he hit a fastball no one on the team could hit having never touched a baseball bat before? That doesn't make sense. So, who do I recommend this book to? I could see rereading this if it was a favorite childhood book. I have enjoyed some really cringe-y books in my younger days, I get that. You could read it because you are reading all of the Newbery winners; that's why I read it. Other than that, I don't see too much point in picking this one up. Spinelli's writing style is interesting, but, I think I'll stick to books where he hasn't tried to tackle race.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Eleni

    I’m very conflicted about reviewing this book. Ever since childhood, I had always wanted to read it, but I never got around to it. Now that I have, I’m not sure what I would have thought of it then, and I wonder if I would have interpreted it differently than I do as an adult. Maniac Magee tells the story of how Jeffrey Magee becomes a legend in his small town after his parents die in a freak accident. What follows is a series of episodic feats that border on myth about a boy who changes the live I’m very conflicted about reviewing this book. Ever since childhood, I had always wanted to read it, but I never got around to it. Now that I have, I’m not sure what I would have thought of it then, and I wonder if I would have interpreted it differently than I do as an adult. Maniac Magee tells the story of how Jeffrey Magee becomes a legend in his small town after his parents die in a freak accident. What follows is a series of episodic feats that border on myth about a boy who changes the lives of his racially divided town. The voice of this story is distinct and you can’t help but be pulled into the story with the first line “They say Maniac Magee was born in a dump.” The reader is immediately cued to consider the difference between truth and myth as Maniac’s story is not told by him, but by the collective other. It’s effective and shapes the story’s manic tone. The story feels disjointed at times with details missing in places that the general public would not have access to. In my opinion, the opening chapter and voice are the best parts of the book. Now the problem I have with the story is the handling of race. Maniac Magee is a white boy born on the West End, who understandably suffers when his parents die from a freak accident. As the story progresses and Maniac begins to make waves in his town when he begins living on the East End with a black family, it is portrayed as Maniac is the only who suffers most directly from intolerance while the implications of intolerance against his black friends are much more oblique. I’m sure this probably wasn’t the intention of the author, and I had to remind myself that this book was published in 1990 and that I was reading it in 2018, but it did make me think the book was dated and partial. The other complaint I had with this book was the ending. I was expecting an epic moment of poignancy of the effect Maniac had on his community, but I was surprised with the simpleness of it. It made me reconsider the whole story as what Maniac wanted most was not clear throughout the narrative until the last sentence. It was disorienting as there was not enough insight in Maniac’s emotional struggles to have that ending pay off. Overall, I’m glad I read this book and finally ended the mystery that is the legend of Maniac Magee.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Janie Lee

    OMG! I forgot I read this until now, I loved this book!!! The story of Magee is do interesting.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Luke J

    I loved the book. It is about an orphan named Jeffery Lionel Magee who's parents died in a tragic wreck. He went to live with his uncle and aunt who hated each other, but they were strict Catholics so they refused to divorce. So when he couldn't take it anymore, he ran away. He ran all the way to a town called Two Mills. The town is divided by two sides, the East and the West. The West side is populated by Caucasian people, and the East is populated by African Americans. He wanders into the East I loved the book. It is about an orphan named Jeffery Lionel Magee who's parents died in a tragic wreck. He went to live with his uncle and aunt who hated each other, but they were strict Catholics so they refused to divorce. So when he couldn't take it anymore, he ran away. He ran all the way to a town called Two Mills. The town is divided by two sides, the East and the West. The West side is populated by Caucasian people, and the East is populated by African Americans. He wanders into the East side and meets Amanda Beale. They realize he is homeless, so they take him in, though he isn't exactly welcomed there. After awhile, Maniac started to realize how much some people in the East side hate him, he runs away again. He lives in the buffalo pin at the zoo, until he meets a man named Earl Grayson. He takes him in and they live together until Earl dies five days after Christmas. (The book does not explain his death). He wanders for awhile, and then he comes across two boys claiming to have run away from home. There names are Russell and Piper McNab. He convinces them to go home and they got Maniac to join them. He lives there until one night, Amanda Beale comes looking for him and begs Maniac to come back, and he agreed. That was the end of the book. It was an emotional roller coaster for me. I would recommend this book to anyone

  27. 5 out of 5

    C C

    The opening pages of this book are good. The writing is alive, and, well, "maniacal," and then it sort of melts into a gooey pile of pabulum. Lots of weird racial stuff takes place. I mean, if you wanted to use the book as case evidence of white guilt, it would work, 'cuz there's something fishy about this super-fast, orphaned white-kid who ends up living with a black family. Wishful thinking, Spinelli. It's too late. You're a honky. The opening pages of this book are good. The writing is alive, and, well, "maniacal," and then it sort of melts into a gooey pile of pabulum. Lots of weird racial stuff takes place. I mean, if you wanted to use the book as case evidence of white guilt, it would work, 'cuz there's something fishy about this super-fast, orphaned white-kid who ends up living with a black family. Wishful thinking, Spinelli. It's too late. You're a honky.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Praxedes

    This cute but disjointed story chronicles the early life of an outcast, Maniac Magee, and his journey to find a home. It is laugh out loud funny at times, touching during others, but it lacks coherence. It reads more like a collection of anecdotes than a story or even a memoir. Magee is clearly endearing, and his nobility in the face of hardship makes him a hero of sorts. (Having near super-human powers doesn't hurt, either.) Middle schoolers will take a shine to this character for sure. This cute but disjointed story chronicles the early life of an outcast, Maniac Magee, and his journey to find a home. It is laugh out loud funny at times, touching during others, but it lacks coherence. It reads more like a collection of anecdotes than a story or even a memoir. Magee is clearly endearing, and his nobility in the face of hardship makes him a hero of sorts. (Having near super-human powers doesn't hurt, either.) Middle schoolers will take a shine to this character for sure.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mrs. Rogers

    This is my ultime favorite book! I love the determination and survival techniques that Maniac Magee displays and the positive evolution of the character. This novel will warm your heart and you will read that everyone can and should be loved. Your eyes will play magic tricks on you as you read and can visualize the line of racial tension start to fade away.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Gabriel D

    Probably the best book club book I've read in a while! This book takes place in a very interesting town named, Bridgeport. This town is separated by race. This book got me surprised that the town is separated by race and it takes place in the 2000s. I recommend this book to anyone who likes different types of stories. Probably the best book club book I've read in a while! This book takes place in a very interesting town named, Bridgeport. This town is separated by race. This book got me surprised that the town is separated by race and it takes place in the 2000s. I recommend this book to anyone who likes different types of stories.

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