Monday, April 21, 2008

Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli

Jeffrey Magee is a legend. Orphaned at age 3, he was sent to live with his aunt and uncle - who are beyond unhappy. One day - when he was 11 - he decided to run. Not just run away - but to RUN. He ran all the way back to the area where he was born. Once there, he earns the nickname of Manic, and develops a legendary status.

Jeffrey ends up in a variety of situations. Some are just humorous. Some are downright dangerous. He doesn’t understand the racial divide of Hector Street, and finds friends – and enemies on both sides.

Spinelli spins an excellent tale. It’s no wonder that this book won the Newberry. The story covers some tough topics – but is still light enough to not give young readers nightmares. Reading this story would be a great lead in to discussions about those topics (racism, homelessness, alcohol abuse, etc.). The feats that make Maniac Magee legendary are believable, adding to the story’s appeal.

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