Great Illustrated Books

Maniac Magee

By Jerry Spinelli

Little, Brown Young Readers, 1999
Pages : 180
Suggested Ages: 8 and Up
ISBN: 9780316807227

Jeffrey Magee, orphaned at three years old, runs away from his aunt and uncle's house once he hits eleven. And literally runs—he runs for days and finally slows down when he gets to the town of Two Mills, Pennsylvania. He wows the residents of Two Mills with his extreme athletic prowess and talents—he can outrun dogs, bat frogs, and untie the town's hardest knot. The town of Two Mills is split down the middle, with blacks living in East End and whites living in West End. Maniac Magee moves in with a black family on the East side and then a white family on the West, and in between houses, even lives at the town zoo. Like the exploits of Paul Bunyan, tales of Maniac's legendary feats spread through both sides of town, and through his example, began to heal the rift between two races so suspicious of each other, they've never crossed paths.

Spinelli's short chapters and direct prose will startle children into rethinking their attitudes toward anyone different. After your kids read the book, watch the Nickelodeon movie of Maniac Magee, here: Have them compare the book and the movie. Which did they prefer and why? Picking up on the themes of race relations and baseball, pull in Peter Golenbock's Teammates and Vaunda Micheaux Nelson's Mayfield Crossing.

Reviewed by : CH.


If you love this book, then try:

Creech, Sharon. Ruby Holler. HarperCollins, 2002.

Curtis, Christopher Paul. Bud, Not Buddy. Delacorte, 1999.

Curtis, Christopher Paul. The Watsons Go to Birmingham, 1963. Delacorte, 1995.

Golenbock, Peter. Teammates. Harcourt, 1990.

Levine, Gail Carson. Dave at Night. HarperCollins, 1999.

Nelson, Vaunda Micheaux. Mayfield Crossing. Putnam, 1993.

Paulsen, Gary. Hatchet. Bradbury, 1987.

Sachar, Louis. Holes. Farrar,1998.

Spinelli, Jerry. Crash. Knopf, 1996.

Spinelli, Jerry. Loser. HarperCollins, 2002.

Spinelli, Jerry. Stargirl. Knopf, 2000.

Spinelli, Jerry. Wringer. HarperCollins, 1997.

Critics have said

"Full of snappy street-talk cadences, this off-the-wall yarn will give readers of all colors plenty of food for thought. "
Publishers Weekly

". . . has the tone of a story that has come down through the years."
New York Times Book Review