Monday, February 21, 2011

Maniac McGee

Spinelli, J. (1990). Maniac McGee. New York, NY: Scholastic, Inc.

Plot Summary:
Jeffrey Magee was orphaned as a baby. He immediately went to live with his aunt and uncle who never spoke to one another. When Jeffrey was eight he could no longer take living with his aunt and uncle and he decided to run away. Jeffrey just kept on running and running. He ran into the town of Two Mills and kept running. Along his run, Jeffrey performed many feats, such as hitting every ball off John McNab, the record holding strike out pitcher. Magee also ran into a practice football game, while continuing to run he caught a punt and ran it in for a touchdown. These were the stories that made Magee into a legend and caused his name to become Maniac Magee. But to the town his most impressive act was to cross the tracks that divided the white East End with the African American West End, in this town, that just wasn't done. Through his homelessness Magee befriends an African American family, an old man, and a poor white racist family. Through his running and lack of awareness of the hate going on around him, Magee helps to bridge the divide between the two sides of town.

I thought this was an interesting way to discuss racial issues. The author managed to take some very heavy subjects, such as racism and homelessness, and discuss them with some humor and lightheartedness. A lot of times I would not really understand where the book was going, but I think that was how the author intended it because Maniac himself did not know where he was going one day to the next.

realistic fiction

Reading Level:
Ages 9 - 12

Similar Books:


racism, homelessness, friendships

Newbery Medal Winner
Boston Globe/Horn Book Award
Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award
Mark Twain Award

Character Names/Descriptions:
Jeffrey Lionel Magee (Maniac Magee): orphan, homeless, is constantly running. Magee is good at playing football, baseball, and untying knots.

Amanda Beale: Lives on the West End of Two Mills, has two younger twin siblings, befriends Magee and has him move in with her family

Earl Grayson: Older man, Magee lives with him for awhile, used to play baseball in the minor leagues

Mars Bar Thompson: Tough kid on the West End of Two Mills

John McNab: Tough kid on the East End of Two Mills, Magee lives with he and his brothers and dad for awhile

Maniac Magee has become a legend in Two Mills. This boy, without a home or parents, has tackled incredible feats and managed to begin to bring the divided town together.

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