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on May 19, 2002
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.
After Maniac runs away from Amanda's house, he lives with the buffalos at the park zoo. One day he meets Grayson who used to be a Minor league pitcher. Grayson and Maniac become really close like grandson and grandfather. They do everything together. You'll have to read what happens next. It's very emotional.
Maniac spends time with the McNabb family in the West End. This is where the white people live. When he's there he tries to bring the East End and West End kids together. One time it doesn't work. Another time it does work.
Maniac runs away from all of his temporary homes because he wants things to be perfect. He learns that not everything can be perfect. Does he find what he wants in the end? You'll have to read the book to find out.
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on February 6, 2003
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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on June 15, 1999
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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on February 8, 2007
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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on January 25, 1999
In Maniac Magee, author Jerry Spinelli gives us an unflinching first-person account of a homeless boy, Jeffrey, and how he learns to cope with prejudice and racism. Orphaned at age three when his parents die in a railroad crash, Jeffrey runs away from the unhappily married relatives he has been living with for eight difficult years.
Jeffrey is a larger-than-life character whose amazing skills as a runner, a person who can untie any knot, and hit fastballs like few who have come before, are the stuff of local legend. But what students find most compelling is the way Jeffrey interacts with the assorted characters he meets in his travels and how, through summoning his own courage, Jeffrey is able to help resolve long-standing racial tensions between two towns.
Teachers and curriculum directors in the Boston Public Schools have been so impressed by the powerful themes in Taking Sides that they have selected it as one of six core novels for sixth graders as part of the Max Warburg Courage Curriculum. The other five novels are: Taking Sides, Number the Stars, Bridge to Terabithia, So Far from the Bamboo Grove, and Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. As with Maniac Magee, each novel addresses the theme of courage--different types of courage, what it takes to act courageously, and how even small acts of courage can have enormous consequences in everyday life.
I highly recommend Maniac Magee as a book that will offer adolescent readers new insights into prejudice and how, with perseverance, it can be overcome.
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on September 5, 2002
Jeffery Lionel Magee, Maniac Magee, is a homeless boy who faces numerous challenges in life. Maniac is simply looking for a place to call home. During his adventures in Two Mills, he wins the admiration of many other kids. He unfortunately comes face to face with the issue of racism, but unlike so many others he sees it in a different light. Maniac always hold his head high and appreciates the little things in life. This book is funny and at times sad.
Jerry Spinelli does a wonderful job painting a clear picture of Maniac's life. Thus making the novel very meaningful. He puts Maniac is a unique situation that is very believable. The figurative speech that is used makes reading interesting and understandable. For example, when Maniac is faced with racism he says, "For the life of him he couldn't figure out why the East Enders called themselves black . . . the colors he found were gingersnap and light fudge . . ." Jerry Spinelli's description gives the reader a apparent understanding of how Maniac saw the society he lived with. The descriptions of the atmospheres in the homes that Maniac visits can almost be felt as the dialogue takes place. This allows the reader to feel apart of the novel and understand the feelings of each character.
I would personally recommend this book to anyone. It takes the reader through the funny, happy and sad moments of Maniac's life. It even has some eye opening experiences. There is an important lesson to be learned from this novel and Jerry Spinelli shows it in creative ways.
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on July 12, 2001
In "Before the Story", an introduction to the novel, Jerry Spinelli writes, "What's true, what's myth? It's hard to know." Was Maniac Magee really a superhero in an urban legend of childhood--or was he just an extraordinary, though very human, young boy? Again, even to those who have read the story several times, it's hard to know. I doubt if Spinelli himelf knows the answer. During Part I, for example, Jeffrey/Maniac is a boy in Chapter I, a legend in Chapter II, a boy in Chapter III, a legend in Chapter IV . . . you get the idea.
Even the rest of the characters have that half-unbelievable, half-real quality about them, though not as powerfully. For instance, few people have ever known an Amanda Beale who carries her entire library to school everyday; but it is easy to believe that _someone_ like Amanda does exist . . . somewhere out there. And most kids could interview all the old parkhands in their states and probably not find one who has struck out Willie Mays, or any other major league baseball player, for that matter. Yet it is still easy to believe that the novel's Grayson has a real-life counterpart. Beginning with Chapter One, when the first strange characters, Uncle Dan and Aunt Dot, are introduced, readers may suspend their disbelief and experience one of the most wonderful adventures in modern children's literature.
I call it an adventure because, whether he or the readers know it or not, Jeffrey/Maniac is on a quest. He is looking for a place to call home, a place where he can be accepted and happy. Readers follow him from his first home in Bridgeport to his final home in a place-you-will-have-to-read-the-novel-to-know-about. This quest is not the only mythical element in this great novel: the hero also has several tasks to perform and dangers to brave before he achieves his dream. Along with all his "superpowers," he even has a "fatal flaw" to overcome: his naive nearsightedness when it comes to others.
Some of the tasks are as simple as undoing an impossible knot. Others are as "dangerous" as trying to make peace between blacks and whites in a neighborhood. Something else mythical is Maniac's experience in the West End, which can be called a "Descent into the Underworld". Like a modern Odysseus, he makes many educational stops on the way to his own special Ithaca. (The three parts of the book mark these stops.)
All of this is told in Jerry Spinelli's beautiful prose, which sometimes nearly becomes poetry. For example: "For most of November, winter toyed with Two Mills, whispered in its ear, tickled it under the chin. On Thanksgiving Thursday, winter kicked it in the stomach." At other times, the narrative seems to come straight out of a character's mind, with Spinelli taking on the voice of that character.
To top it all off, "Maniac Magee" has an excellent moral. (There are many little lessons scattered throughout the plot, but I will focus on the main one.) Interestingly, the novel does not make any fixed judgements on running away. First it seems to say that running away is not the answer and that homes must be worked on, as much as found. Then it reminds us that Jeffrey/Maniac would not have found his home had he not run away to look for it in the first place.
This story tugs at the heart and enriches the soul, but it also opens the mind.
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on May 18, 2008
After reading Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli, I have learned a lot about what it takes to be a good friend. I thought I had good friends before I read it. Friends are supposed to be people you can laugh with, remember forever, and trust enough to ask for a payday loan without any threat of interest. Spinelli produced in Jeffrey Magee a completely different kind of friend.
Maniac, as he came to be known by other characters in the book was homeless, needy, untrusting of most others, independent, and reclusive. He preferred running through town and sleeping with animals at the zoo to staying with his stiff, staunch, and insensitive foster parents. When he does run away, he finds himself in the same town his parents died. He discovers there the racial hate, socio-economic oppression, and disbelief in people he thought he had run away from. But he also discovered that the people there revered him as a legend.
Spinelli wastes no time complicating Magee's life. Soon after he runs away, Maniac is sought after by a neighborhood bully, ousted by racist adults, hunted by arrogant unsupervised white kids, and indebted to the first kind person he meets. Spinelli creates a lovelable boy, with many of the same characteristics as Tom Sawyer, and a lot of the same plights many of his readers recognize from experience. Only one thing makes Magee stand out from all the rest.
Magee is blessed with a shroud of heroism. In his own meandering and misanthropic way, Maniac saves a retired minor league pitcher from his lonliness, restores the legend of a fallen big brother, returns courage to a fearful bully and reaffirms a girls faith in humanity. He also teaches a town to accept differences on both sides of the track...in spite of color differences.
The novel is colored with humor, charm and sincerity. Spinelli seems to be unfolding real events on a neon canvas. So bright and amusing they can't possibly be real, these moments resonate with whispers of reality. Parts of Spinelli's childhood seep from the pages, touching the lives of all readers and embracing the childhood some have yet to leave behind.
Readability is enhanced by short fast paced chapters, a subtle thread of suspense and a genuine curiosity about what Maniac Magee will do next. No matter who reads this book, Magee is sure to run them down leaving their minds stamped with Jerry Spinelli's gifted writing.
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I sort of lump Jerry Spinelli and Kate DiCamillo into the same category. Though Spinelli has always been more prolific than DiCamillo (partly because he's been working longer), both authors create similar upbeat-but-acknowledge-the-world's-problems type children's books. And people love Spinelli and DiCamillo. Love them because they want to feel that these books really capture the unattainable good within the bad that is so very hard to write about. Personally, I'm not a huge fan of DiCamillo, and Spinelli's "Stargirl" left me kinda cold. So I picked up "Maniac Magee" with a kind of vain hope. Maybe this book would be better than I'd expected. Maybe it wouldn't drown the darker elements of life and society in the ooey-gooey syrup of a "Full House" episode. Maybe, in fact, this would be a great book. And you know what? It kind of is.
This is a tall tale. The awesome story of Maniac Magee. He was the fastest, smartest, coolest kid you'd ever meet. He could untie any knot you handed him, and outrun anyone you could name. He was tough and funny and never went to school. He was a living legend in his day and was colorblind as they come. When Maniac Magee moves into the black side of town, his appearance there and subsequent actions trip off a series of events that lead, if not to greater understanding between townspeople, then to a lessening of prejudices.
This is what I liked about "Maniac Magee". I liked that this book didn't end with Maniac ala Keesha Knight Pullman in "Polly" destroying the barriers between the white side and the black side of town single-handedly. I liked that he didn't destroy racism itself and that the ending of the book, rather than clearing up the town's problems, cleared up Maniac's problems. I liked that he had problems in the first place and that though he was an extraordinary human being, he made mistakes. I liked Mars Bar Thompson, a boy that is, in a way, a tall tale of his own and Maniac's worthy rival. I liked all these things, and more. I liked the story itself. It knew where to draw the line, how much to say, and how much to leave unsaid.
This is what I didn't like about "Maniac Magee". I didn't like that the book never really explained why the blacks hated the whites so much. Once in a while a black character would get angry at Maniac's appearance on the wrong side of town and yell at him things like, "Never enough, is it, Whitey? Just want more and more. Won't even leave us our little water in the street". The man who says these things to Maniac has obviously suffered heartily at the hands of whites in the past, but Spinelli paints the character as more of a crazy aberration representing a minority opinion. He doesn't explain WHY the African Americans wouldn't want a white person amongst them, and kids reading this might just think the guy was mean or unbalanced. To read this book is to already understand the underpinnings of racism. Otherwise, you might get a little bent out of shape reading a story in which a white kid beats a black one so badly that the white kid is able to run backwards over the finish line, effectively humiliating his black opponent.
There are things to love and dislike about "Maniac Magee". All in all, I found it fairly strong. The tall tale aspect of the storytelling, the rhythmic rise and fall of the action and words, and the book's telling conclusion all make it a rather good piece of writing. It's not as neatly tied up as much as it could be at the end, and that's just fine. Though I might not have handed it a Newbery award, it's well worth perusing and deserves to be on every child's reading list for a long long time.
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on February 6, 2003
Jeffery Magee is an eleven year old boy, who has no real family. His parents died in a trolley crash when he was only three! He was then sent to live with his Aunt Dot and Uncle Dan, who were strict Catholic's. Although they wanted to get a divorce, they never did because it was against their religion. Finally, after eight years, Maniac was sick and tired of them fighting, and ran away. Maniac ran to Two Mills, a small city, split into two towns, the East End and the West End. The East End was the blacks and the the West End was the whites. In Two Mills Maniac has some awkward adventures!
I thought Jerry Spinelli really made readers not want to put the book down. This book teaches people that there is no difference between blacks and whites, except the actual color. This book teaches me to be brave and to stand up for what is right. Jerry Spinelli connects clues throughout the the book, which really makes people want to read his books. If you are ten to thirteen years old and are looking for a fun, easy reading book, Maniac Magee is definitely perfect for you!
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