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Maniac Magee

3.85  ·  Rating Details  ·  98,190 Ratings  ·  3,162 Reviews
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.
Paperback, 192 pages
Published November 1st 1990 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (first published 1990)
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Amber'Nay No Maniac Magee is not a maniac in actuality but he is to the children he is surround by. that is the one thing that this book does so well. The…moreNo Maniac Magee is not a maniac in actuality but he is to the children he is surround by. that is the one thing that this book does so well. The children in this book are so weird and childlike and to them the thinks that Magee does is like a maniac because they are just kids. There is a really big difference between the way children act and the way adults act. The children see the feats that Magee does and cant help but believe that he is a maniac.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Mar 06, 2007 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
He wasn't born with the name Maniac Magee. He came into this world named Jeffrey Lionel Magee, but when his parents died and his life changed, so did his name. Maniac Magee took to the streets.

And Maniac Magee became a legend.

Even today kids talk about how fast he could run; about how he hit an inside-the-park "frog" homer; how no knot, no matter how snarled, would stay that way once he began to untie it. Little girls jumping rope chant:
"Ma-niac, Ma-niac
He's so cool
Ma-niac, Ma-niac
Don't go t
Sep 21, 2007 Liz rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I really didn't enjoy this book. I feel like the story didn't really go anywhere. Spinelli tried to touch on issues of racial prejudice and poverty, and let the exsistance of those issues carry his story. It didn't work. However because there are touchy issues, it becomes a story that isn't easy to complain about. However I'll be brave enough to say, "I didn't like it!".

As a personal note, I do not find this novel appropriate for children still in gradeschool.
Oct 18, 2009 Dawn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A really neat book. Excellent! Definitely deserving of its Newbery Award. I think I have to give it a 5! I find myself asking, "Why didn't I ever read this before?" I've certainly heard of it for years. My fourth grade daughter just read it at school and loved it. I really enjoyed the narrative voice and style. It starts out almost like a tall tale, but what Maniac really accomplished is better than a legend. So it's a meaningful story that teaches an important lesson without being preachy. The ...more
Mar 10, 2008 Sasha rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: NO ONE
Recommended to Sasha by: MY TEACHER.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nelson B.
Feb 21, 2011 Nelson B. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jerry spinelli is one of the best witers ever. Maniac Magee is a realistic fictionbook because maniac is invented but it could happen in real life.The perents of Maniac Magee died in a trolley crash.Maniac Magee was an orphan so his aunt and uncle adoped him.Maniac did"t like their house because they cant share.One day Maniac ran away because the hated in his aunt and uncle house.When he left he went to Two mills.In TWO MILLS it is white V.S black.I have schema with this book because maniac put ...more
Colleen Venable
Last week I came across a pile of free books on the ground...all copies of MANIAC MAGEE. I took one, knowing it was supposed to be good, but knowing nothing of the plot. It made me cry three times—twice because of the actual story of a homeless boy who brings together the white and black sides of a small town—but I cried the hardest because it felt so poignant given the sad craziness in the country right now. I don't talk politics online, mostly because my own personal believe system is simply " ...more
Rodolfo A.
Feb 18, 2011 Rodolfo A. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this book because is telling me the time
when black people and white people were seperted.

This book is realistic fiction because there and
made up characters but,this happend real that black people
and white people were seperted.

Maniac parents died from a trolly crash.Maniac didn't have any
were to live so,he is an orphan.He met a girl name Amanda.Maniac
wentto amanda's house and lived with her.Later he met a boy name
mar bars.Some people from the west side and east side haet him so,
he went to
Jeffrey Mohr
Jan 25, 2014 Jeffrey Mohr rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mohr-grades-3-5
This book is one of my favorite books to use when I work with students. It approaches the concept of “race” and “racism” through the eyes of someone that just wants to make friends and doesn't understand why people would treat others differently just because of their looks. It also treats the main character as a whole person and shows the turmoil he goes through while dealing with the loss of loved ones and the sadness and depression that can result from that. Students need to see books that don ...more
Patti Richards
May 01, 2012 Patti Richards rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow! Maniac Magee has to be one of the best middle grade novels I have ever read. The storyline is fascinating, but the mixture of reality, conjecture and legend is what kept me turning pages. I loved the hero, and I especially love the family from the “other side of town” that takes him in. They way they pour love into his lost little soul is amazing and very believable. I also really liked the way the author removed him from that home and gave him the ability to love the old man. Had he gone t ...more
Razvan Zamfirescu
Feb 18, 2009 Shel rated it liked it
Spinelli, J. (1990). Maniac Magee. New York: Little, Brown and Company.


As an orphan, Jeffrey Magee is sent to live with his aunt and uncle who live separately within their house and refuse to share anything. At the age of eleven, Jeffrey, unable to deal with his aunt and uncle’s refusal to interact or communicate, runs away. A year later, he appears in a strictly racially segregated town, doing amazing feats and running like a mad man, earning him the nickname, Maniac. Quick to make
Jun 09, 2009 Rachel rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009, fiction
It seems a sacrilege to not like this book. It has an excellent message, but the book wasn’t a good vehicle for getting this message across. The character of Maniac Magee is flat and unrealistic. He has no flaws, can do no wrong, and rarely exhibits real emotion. He is loved by all, completes amazing feats of bravery, athleticism, and intelligence, and changes the entire town he lives in. That kind of character isn’t realistic. The book never establishes if this is a fantasy world (where a boy c ...more
Dec 31, 2011 Stephen rated it really liked it
This WOULD have been a childhood favorite. If it had been written 30 years earlier. As it is, it's a wonderful, light-hearted, good spirited book that deserves to be read by children of all ages (including those in their 50's)

Yes, it's a kid's book, but it's a fast fun read and adults would be well advised to give it a read as well. While it has much the same allegorical feel as Holes, in some ways it avoids a few of the pitfalls of that book.

As with any good fiction, there's some truth hidden
Becky Bishop
Mar 27, 2008 Becky Bishop rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My absolute favorite book. Yes it is a children's book, but it is so amazing. You will not want to put it down. I read it to my class every year. I have only known about it for 4 years now. I wanted to read a book to my class and let everyone have a copy. We have literature sets at our school for checkout and Maniac Magee had the most copies, so I chose it. I didn't know anything about the book, but we read it as a class and I absolutely would recommend that everyone read it even if you are out ...more
I stayed up all night reading this one. Finished it the next day, as it was a Friday PD day. 6th grade. Teacher came up with a set of topics & each student was assigned a topic. I was given the topic of the knot, some little plot device in the middle of the book. I was pretty annoyed that a girl in the class was assigned the widescale topic of the character, & demonstrated that she didn't get past the first chapter when she stated that they called him maniac magee because he was yelling ...more
Jan 21, 2015 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Been meaning to reread this since the sixth grade.
Apr 04, 2009 Elysa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really good book! I read it more than once!
Evelyn Ink
Nov 28, 2014 Evelyn Ink rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. I think I was in love with this book before I finished reading the second sentence:
"They say Maniac Magee was born in a dump. They say his stomach was a cereal box and his heart a sofa spring.
They say he kept an eight-inch cockroach on a leash and that rats stood guard over him while he slept."
This book is written in a narrative that is part hear-say, part school-yard legend, and part facts. Magee’s story begins when he runs away from his Aunt and Uncle who hate each other, but will not di
Jul 04, 2011 Maddie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book is quite possibly one of the most poorly written works of fiction I have ever had the misfortune to stumble upon. I personally am not a fan of Jerry Spinelli (with the exception of Stargirl), and thought I would give him one last shot. Not only was the writing itself unbearable and slow, the topic is overused and cliché. The emotions are few and far between. Throw in there a sad, pathetic kid whose life does not improve whatsoever and some other worthless surface characters and you hav ...more
Dec 08, 2015 Shanu rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
"Maniac loved the colors of the East End, the people colors.
For the life of him, he couldn't figure why these East Enders called themselves black. He kept looking and looking, and the colors he found were gingersnap and light fudge and dark fudge and acorn and butter rum and cinnamon and burnt orange. But never licorice, which, to him, was real black."

Oh, you precious little freak.

I don't really follow the thought that if people stopped talking about color of skin, then racism would disappear- a
Jan 06, 2014 Kristin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In my continuing quest to read all of the books Roosevelt students read in their language arts classes, I picked up Maniac Magee to read over winter break. I’m glad I did. Jerry Spinelli tells the story of Maniac Magee, an orphan who escapes an aunt and uncle who don’t communicate and becomes famous around town for his skills in sports, untying knots, and running. I liked Maniac’s observations on the ridiculousness of a town split by race and his efforts to improve race relations in his own smal ...more
Apr 07, 2015 Jocelyn rated it it was amazing
Maniac Magee is about a boy named Jeffrey Magee. His parents have already died. Jeffrey lives with his Aunt and Uncle who won't speak to each other but won't get lawfully divorced. He runs away when he is eleven. He meets many people including John McNahb the best Baseball player in Pennsylvania. When John throws his fastballs that no one can see except Jeffrey Magee. That is only one of the ways Jeffrey got the name Maniac. Another was when where most kids walked on one train rail Maniac RAN. M ...more
This book is really funny and good. It is about a white boy who lost his parents and has nowhere to live. But people hate him in the east end. Whites stay on the west end and the blacks stay on the east. But Jeferry maggie(maniac Maggie) is on the east end. He always wants an address but can never stay with one. He does find this black family but then he leaves to go to the west end. I reccome d this book because it is hilarious.

Summarize the book:

This is a book about Jeffrey Lionel "Maniac" Magee who starts out living with his aunt and uncle due to freak accident that left him an orphan. When his aunt and uncle's fighting became to much for him, Maniac literally ran away from home. When he reaches a racially divided small town, Maniac breaks just about every social norm in that town changing it forever. In the town Maniac meets friends, calms enemies, and breaks records. In a sense he becomes legendary, and just wants
Christian Clarke
The opening pages of this book are good. The writing is alive, and, well, "maniacal," and then it sort of melts into a gooey pile of pabulum. Lots of weird racial stuff takes place. I mean, if you wanted to use the book as case evidence of white guilt, it would work, 'cuz there's something fishy about this super-fast, orphaned white-kid who ends up living with a black family. Wishful thinking, Spinelli. It's too late. You're a honky.
Mrs. Rogers
Mar 06, 2013 Mrs. Rogers rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my ultime favorite book! I love the determination and survival techniques that Maniac Magee displays and the positive evolution of the character. This novel will warm your heart and you will read that everyone can and should be loved. Your eyes will play magic tricks on you as you read and can visualize the line of racial tension start to fade away.
Crain Taylor
Jan 26, 2014 Crain Taylor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crain-grades-3-5
Maniac Magee is a wonderfully written book about the adventures of a young boy named Jeffery Magee, whose parents unfortunately died in a tragic accident when he was very young. The story follows Jeffery through many trials as he strives to find his place in the world. More than anything, Jeffery longs for an address - any place he can call home. Throughout his adventures, Jeffery changes the lives of all the people he encounters. He quickly gets nicknamed "Maniac" for some of the crazy stunts h ...more
Maniac Magee is a beautiful book.
I read it via audiobook. There aren't too many flawless audiobooks, but this is one of them. The narrator is perfect and the writing was good: a golden combination. I felt like the story was being told straight to me, so relaxed, so familiar, with rich voices and emotions. It was excellent.
As a kid, I wouldn't have cared for this book (it has too much baseball and too few animals), but as a young adult I loved it. Maniac is entirely endearing, and I loved to hea
Christopher Spinosa
Maniac Magee, in my perspective, was very interesting, with multiple scene changes and multiple characters that had importance in specific times of his life. This story is about Maniac Magee, a boy who just wanted to live a normal life, until his parents die in a freak accident, and he has to live with his uncle, who hates his wife, and they all live miserably. Maniac hates this, and decides to run away to find a new home. He encounters many people and families and who are willing to let him liv ...more
Emily G.
May 20, 2015 Emily G. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jeffery Magee was a legend. When he was three years old, his parents died in a trolley accident, making him an orphan. He was shipped off to his aunt and uncle who hated each other, and he lasted there for about eight years. After that, he decided to run, meeting many people and doing remarkable things. On his journey, he went into the two divided parts of town: the East End and the West End. He met many people and did unbelievable things, and from then on, he was called Maniac Magee.

I really en
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maniac magee 1 3 Jan 19, 2016 09:23AM  
Climax and Resolution 2 3 Dec 15, 2015 10:24AM  
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Foil in wonder 1 2 Dec 03, 2015 10:23AM  
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When Jerry Spinelli was a kid, he wanted to grow up to be either a cowboy or a baseball player. Lucky for us he became a writer instead.

He grew up in rural Pennsylvania and went to college at Gettysburg College and Johns Hopkins University. He has published more than 25 books and has six children and 16 grandchildren.
Jerry Spinelli began writing when he was 16 — not much older than the hero of his
More about Jerry Spinelli...

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“Nobody knows who said it first, but somebody must have: 'Kid's gotta be a maniac.” 21 likes
“Vowels were something else. He didn't like them and they didn't like him. There were only five of them, but they seemed to be everywhere. Why, you could go through twenty words without bumping into some of the shyer consonants, but it seemed as if you couldn't tiptoe past a syllable without waking up a vowel. Consonants, you know pretty much where you stood, but you could never trust a vowel.” 17 likes
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