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Maniac Magee Paperback – November 1, 1999


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 180 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; second edition (November 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316809063
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316809061
  • Product Dimensions: 7.3 x 5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (834 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,302 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Maniac Magee is a folk story about a boy, a very excitable boy. One that can outrun dogs, hit a home run off the best pitcher in the neighborhood, tie a knot no one can undo. "Kid's gotta be a maniac," is what the folks in Two Mills say. It's also the story of how this boy, Jeffrey Lionel "Maniac" Magee, confronts racism in a small town, tries to find a home where there is none and attempts to soothe tensions between rival factions on the tough side of town. Presented as a folk tale, it's the stuff of storytelling. "The history of a kid," says Jerry Spinelli, "is one part fact, two parts legend, and three parts snowball." And for this kid, four parts of fun. Maniac Magee won the 1991 Newbery Medal. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

In this modern-day tall tale, Spinelli ( Dump Days ; Jason and Marceline ) presents a humorous yet poignant look at the issue of race relations, a rare topic for a work aimed at middle readers. Orphaned as an infant, Jerry Magee is reared by his feuding aunt and uncle until he runs away at age eight. He finds his way to Two Mills, Pa., where the legend of "Maniac" Magee begins after he scores major upsets against Brian Denehy, the star high school football player, and Little League tough guy, John McNab. In racially divided Two Mills, the Beales, a black family, take Maniac in, but despite his local fame, community pressure forces him out and he returns to living at the zoo. Park groundskeeper Grayson next cares for the boy, but the old man dies and Maniac moves into the squalid home of the McNabs, who are convinced a race war is imminent. After a showdown with his nemesis, Mars Bar, Maniac bridges the gap between the two sides of town and finally finds a home. Full of snappy street-talk cadences, this off-the-wall yarn will give readers of all colors plenty of food for thought. Ages 8-12.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Growing up, Jerry Spinelli was really serious about baseball. He played for the Green Sox Little League team in his hometown of Norristown, Pennsylvania, and dreamed of one day playing for the major leagues, preferably as shortstop for the New York Yankees.

One night during high school, Spinelli watched the football team win an exciting game against one of the best teams in the country. While everyone else rode about town tooting horns in celebration, Spinelli went home and wrote "Goal to Go," a poem about the game's defining moment, a goal-line stand. His father submitted the poem to the Norristown Times-Herald and it was featured in the middle of the sports page a few days later. He then traded in his baseball bat for a pencil, because he knew that he wanted to become a writer.

After graduating from Gettysburg College with an English degree, Spinelli worked full time as a magazine editor. Every day on his lunch hour, he would close his office door and craft novels on yellow magazine copy paper. He wrote four adult novels in 12 years of lunchtime writing, but none of these were accepted for publication. When he submitted a fifth novel about a 13-year-old boy, adult publishers once again rejected his work, but children's publishers embraced it. Spinelli feels that he accidentally became an author of children's books.

Spinelli's hilarious books entertain both children and young adults. Readers see his life in his autobiography Knots in My Yo-Yo String, as well as in his fiction. Crash came out of his desire to include the beloved Penn Relays of his home state of Pennsylvania in a book, while Maniac Magee is set in a fictional town based on his own hometown.

When asked if he does research for his writing, Spinelli says: "The answer is yes and no. No, in the sense that I seldom plow through books at the library to gather material. Yes, in the sense that the first 15 years of my life turned out to be one big research project. I thought I was simply growing up in Norristown, Pennsylvania; looking back now I can see that I was also gathering material that would one day find its way into my books."

On inspiration, the author says: "Ideas come from ordinary, everyday life. And from imagination. And from feelings. And from memories. Memories of dust in my sneakers and humming whitewalls down a hill called Monkey."

Spinelli lives with his wife and fellow writer, Eileen, in West Chester, Pennsylvania. While they write in separate rooms of the house, the couple edits and celebrates one another's work. Their six children have given Jerry Spinelli a plethora of clever material for his writing.

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Customer Reviews

It is a good book and I recommend that you read this masterpiece.
Tech Student
I read this book every year to my students, and this year I finally got to read it to my 4th grade son.
C. Green
I really liked it, I will tell everybody I know to read this book.
Zack Bellows

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

83 of 91 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on May 19, 2002
Format: Paperback
I picked Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli for my school book report because the cover looked interesting. It showed a picture of feet running. Inside the book jacket was a poem that read:
"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."
It looked very interesting and funny. I really liked the book because the main character, Maniac Magee, was funny and smart and cared about and helped people. You really want him to be happy.
Maniac Magee (whose really name was Jeffrey) became a homeless kid who lost his parents in a trolley accident. He wants a real home with a family and that is what he looks for in the story. He's really unusual. He is famous for running everywhere. He's so fast no one can beat him. He's really good at sports. He even hit a "frog" ball and turned it into an inside the park homerun. He can untie very complicated knots. Little kids bring him all their troubles and he helps solve them. He wins a lifetime supply of pizza but he's allergic to pizza! Everyone loves him--well, almost everyone. That's what bothers him and keeps him running all night.
Maniac doesn't see any bad in people. He keeps thinking they're nice. But some are so mean that he finally figures out they don't like him. He blames himself. Maniac meets a girl, Amanda. She has lots of books and he really wants one. She lets him have one to read. When he returns it she invites him to live with her family in the East End. Only black people live there. Maniac doesn't see any difference between the black and white people. When he sees there are some who don't understand each other he tries to get them to like each other. But this doesn't happen very easily.
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25 of 30 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 15, 1999
Format: Paperback
If you liked Wringer or Space Station Seventh Grade, you'll like to read Maniac Magee. The story about a boy named Jeffery Lionel Magee [later called Maniac] whose parents died when a trolley fell off its track and plunged into the Schulkill River. Everyone on board drowned. Then Jeffery was sent to his aunt and uncle's house. He ran away because his aunt and uncle bickered a lot and he got sick of it. Then he travels 200 miles to Two Mills, Pennsylvania. He moves in with the Beales. A black family willing to take care of Jeffery. After running so fast, hitting the world's first "frogball", scoring 49 touchdowns when playing football with some high schoolers, Jeffery Magee's name was changed to Maniac Magee. Then Maniac moved around from house to house because he and Amanda Beale got into a fight. Then Maniac moves around from house to house in the East End to West End [in this book, blacks and whites are isolated. Blacks in the East End. Whites in the West End] My favorite part was when Russell and Piper tried to run away from home to Mexico, and Maniac tells them to stay home an extra week every week. This is a really good book. It is so good that there should be a movie retelling the story. Like The Indian in the Cupboard. I hope you will like it.
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25 of 30 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on February 6, 2003
Format: Paperback
Maniac Magee was an outstanding book. It was one of the best books i have ever read. Maniac Magee's real name is Jeffery Lionel Magee. He is an 11 year old whose parents died on a trestle. So he had to go live with his aunt and uncle. He ran away from his aunt and uncles house because they were not getting along.
On his journey running he ran to a place called The Two Mills and he met a couple of kids. The first kid was Amanda. Maniac told Amanda about his parents and Amanda Beale invited Maniac to live with them. Maniac was so happy that he had an address now. You are probably wondering where he was sleeping before the Beale's let him live with them. Well i am not going to tell you, you are going to have to see for yourself.
The author that wrote this book is trying to teach us a lesson, to be friends with everyone no matter what color you are.
This author is an amazing writer, in his books there is a lot of humor, and at the same time there is a lot of sadness.
I would recommend this book to 10 year olds to 13 year olds because i am 11 and it really kept my attention.
My opinion of this book is that it was a marvelous book. One of my favorite parts was when he tired to get that enormous knot out of the rope.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on February 8, 2007
Format: Paperback
LOOK OUT! Here comes the boy who loves to run: Maniac Magee his parents died in a car crash and now he lives with his aunt and uncle! One day when he went to his holiday concert with his aunt and uncle then they started making fun of him so he ran right out of that school and ran right down the street and kept running overnight until he reached a whole new town in the morning. When he walked around the next morning he came upon a girl he asked her name, it was Amanda Beale he started talking to her and asked her what was in her briefcase Amanda said it was full of books for school and he asked to see one do she gave him one and he asked to borrow it she said yes because she was late for school and Amanda Beale is never late for school. He stays at many more houses with some weird people to find out about those people read Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli.
In this book maniac comes across a lot of challenges he comes to beat. I would give this book (.....)I loved this book and I guarantee you will to! If you want to check out this book go to your local library and check this book out!
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