Maniac Magee: A Novel
Maniac Magee: A Novel

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Annotation: After his parents die, Jeffrey Lionel Magee's life becomes legendary, as he accomplishes athletic and other feats which awe his contemporaries.
Catalog Number: #189820
Format: Perma-Bound Edition
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Special Formats: Chapter Book Chapter Book
Common Core/STEAM: Common Core Common Core
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Copyright Date: 1990
Edition Date: 2004
Pages: 184 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-316-80906-3 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-2316-X
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-316-80906-1 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-2316-9
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2004275209
Dimensions: 20 cm.
Subject Heading:
Race relations. Fiction.
Language: English
Horn Book
Young Jeffrey 'Maniac' Magee appears in Two Mills, apparently out of nowhere, and takes the town by storm in a cross between a tall tale and a twentieth-century morality play told with exaggeration, humor, and melodrama.
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. (Apr.)
School Library Journal
Gr 6-10-- Warning: this interesting book is a mythical story about racism. It should not be read as reality. Legend springs up about Jeffrey ``Maniac'' Magee, a white boy who runs faster and hits balls farther than anyone, who lives on his own with amazing grace, and is innocent as to racial affairs. After running away from a loveless home, he encounters several families, in and around Two Mills, a town sharply divided into the black East End and the white West End. Black, feisty Amanda Beale and her family lovingly open their home to Maniac, and tough, smart-talking ``Mars Bar'' Thompson and other characters are all, to varying degrees, full of prejudices and unaware of their own racism. Racial epithets are sprinkled throught the book; Mars Bar calls Maniac ``fishbelly,'' and blacks are described by a white character as being ``today's Indians.'' In the final, disjointed section of the book, Maniac confronts the hatred that perpetuates ignorance by bringing Mars Bar to meet the Pickwells--``the best the West End had to offer.'' In the feel-good ending, Mars and Maniac resolve their differences; Maniac gets a home and there is hope for at least improved racial relations. Unreal? Yes. It's a cop-out for Spinelli to have framed this story as a legend--it frees him from having to make it real, or even possible. Nevertheless, the book will stimulate thinking about racism, and it might help educate those readers who, like so many students, have no first-hand knowledge of people of other races. Pathos and compassion inform a short, relatively easy-to-read story with broad appeal, which suggests that to solve problems of racism, people must first know each other as individuals. --Joel Shoemaker, Tilford Middle School, Vinton, IA
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* Part tall tale and part contemporary realistic fiction, this unusual novel magically weaves timely issues of homelessness, racial prejudice, and illiteracy into a complicated story, rich in characters and details. Orphaned at three, Jeffrey Lionel Magee, after eight unhappy years with relatives, one day takes off running. A year later, he ends up 200 miles away in Two Mills, a highly segregated community. Each of the book's three sections is set in one of Maniac's temporary homes. The white boy's first home is with the Beales, a loving black family in the East End; his second is with Grayson, a lonely former minor-league ballplayer, in the band shell in the city zoo; and the third is with the McNabs, a white West End family of tough, neglected boys. A deep sense of story permeates this multiveined novel: Maniac runs (accomplishing fantastic athletic and superhero-type feats and becoming a kind of folk hero in the process) and reads, although he never attends school. He changes other people's lives with books, either by reading from them or by teaching the printed word. For instance, he entices Grayson to tell him baseball stories and later teaches the man to read. Furthermore, Maniac educates white families about black ones and black families about white ones, proving through his own actions the shared humanity of both groups. As he jogs readers into analyzing what makes a home, Spinelli, in his best book to date, creates a provocative slice of life, showing graphically (and sometimes humorously) the pitfalls that face the homeless. Although the novel demands concentration from the reader, it is an energetic piece of writing that bursts with creativity and hope for the future. Good readers will thoroughly enjoy the story, and teachers looking for challenging novels will find plumbing its depths rewarding.
Word Count: 35,427
Reading Level: 4.7
Interest Level: 5-9
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.7 / points: 5.0 / quiz: 5075 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:5.4 / points:8.0 / quiz:Q07357
Lexile: 820L
Guided Reading Level: W
Fountas & Pinnell: W

A Newbery Medal winning modern classic about a racially divided small town and a boy who runs.

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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