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Maniac Magee Paperback – November 1, 1999
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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.
Top customer reviews
The dominant theme of the book seems to race relations. This book goes much much deeper. These deeper themes are developing honest relationship with others, being true to one's ownself, and the power of giving.
I cannot recommend this book strongly enough. It is a great book to read aloud to children . . . and to adults.
The book begins with a young boy, Jefferey Lionel Magee, running into a town in which no one recognizes him. Orphaned after his parents deaths, Maniac has no place to live. The town is a racially divided town with the blacks living on the East end and the whites living on the West end. "Maniac" comes into town and begins to make his mark. He can do everything from hit multiple homeruns off the the best little league pitcher in town, to intercept passes to the best receiver on the football team. After Maniac is rescued by from "Mars Bar" Thompson by Amanda Beale, she takes him to her house to live with her. After he hurts Amanda's feelings, he does not want to cause her anymore pain so he runs away to the zoo where he meets a former minor league baseball pitcher, Earl Grayson, who takes him in and allows Maniac to teach him to read. Just when it seems like Maniac has found a place to stay, Grayson dies, and Maniac is forced to leave. Maniac starts to run again, but runs into John McNab's (the best little league pitcher in town) two younger brothers, who are running away to Mexico. Maniac takes them home to the West end and begins to live with them; however, when Maniac beats Mars Bar in a race, and crashes a birthday party at the McNab's, he is forced into homelessness again. Maniac's final chance comes when one of the McNab kids is facing death in the same place where Maniac's parents died. Maniac and Mars Bar go to save him, but Maniac is too afraid and he leaves. Amanda Beale tracks Maniac down and finally invites him to come live with her and her family for as long as he wants to, and this is how the story ends.
While there are many ups and downs in the story, it is a story that truly teaches all about friendship and love. Jerry Spinelli does a fantastic job of creating a story that can be seen as true in all minds and hearts. While it may not satisfy everyone's wants and needs for a good book, I can honestly say this is one of the greatest if not the greatest book I have ever read. SEVEN THUMBS UP!!!
But I'm glad I didn't, because I found that whatever bothered me in the beginning quickly faded away as the plot of the book began to unfold.
Maniac Magee is set in the north-eastern United States sometime after World War II, the exact date is not specified. It's the story of a boy that struggles through the many losses in his life, all while being educated about the reality of racism in our world. The young man also does this without losing the spark of his personality that really shines in this book.
What I liked:
1. I loved the characters: The children were all very interesting, I especially liked Maniac and Mars Bar. I also found the adult characters very interesting especially the old man Grayson who befriends Maniac. His story is so interesting and heart-breaking you could almost write a whole book about this one character(and I wish Spinelli would).
2. The setting: I loved the places Maniac went and how they were described, very creative.
3. The writing: I didn't like the writing at the first, but I found the imagery created by the writing towards the end were some of the best I've read in any newbery book.
Maniac Magee won the Newbery Medal in 1991, and Jerry Spinelli went on a Newbery Honor medal with his book Wringer a few years later. It was a great read, I highly recommend it.