Patrice Sartor's Reviews > Maniac Magee

Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli
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Aug 23, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: sports-or-activities, realistic-fiction, humor

GENRE: Fiction, adventure, realistic fiction.

SUMMARY: Jeffrey Lionel Magee was sent to live with his aunt and uncle at the age of three, after his parents died. Eight years later Jeffrey could no longer stand to be near the unhappy, silent relationship his relatives had, and he ran away. From then on, he was known as Maniac Magee, for all of the extreme feats of bravery and athleticism he demonstrated while on the run. Maniac has no qualms about heading into the 'black' part of town, going back to the 'white' side after besting the biggest boy there at baseball, or standing up to the toughest guys on either side of town. He can run on thin railway tracks, unknot a hugely tangled ball of twine, and sleep in a buffalo den. Maniac becomes a legendary figure for the real and exaggerated acts he does, and his attitude while doing them.

EVALUATION: I really enjoyed this tale, largely because of how it is written. When a fiction book can make the reader feel that the events they are reading are actually happening, no matter how incredulous they may seem, that is a mark of a well-written book.

WHY I WOULD INCLUDE IT: I believe tweens, particularly younger ones, will enjoy Maniac's many adventures as much as I did. In addition, how Maniac deals with racial tension is very well done. These days racism is hopefully not as big of an issue, though it's always good when a book takes a solid approach to a difficult topic. Lastly, this author is greatly respected and has written a number of wonderful tween titles.

READER'S ANNOTATION: Maniac Magee becomes a legend to those that witness or simply hear of one of his many acts of courage or athletic prowess.

ITEMS WITH SIMILAR APPEAL:
• Holes by Louis Sachar.
• Night of the Howling Dogs by Graham Salisbury.
• The Cryptid Hunters by Roland Smith.
• The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart.
• The Watsons Go to Birmingham, 1963 by Christopher Curtis.
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