Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Maniac Magee” as Want to Read:
Maniac Magee
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Maniac Magee

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  122,203 ratings  ·  4,767 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. ...more
Paperback, 184 pages
Published April 28th 2002 by Scholastic (first published April 2nd 1990)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Maniac Magee, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Sydney☕️ You cant read books on this site DOES ANYONE KNOW THE MEANING OF PREVIEW?
Hugh I would say it's definitely appropriate for fifth graders. I read this book when I was in that age group, and I reread it many times. It deals with to…moreI would say it's definitely appropriate for fifth graders. I read this book when I was in that age group, and I reread it many times. It deals with topics like domestic abuse, death, and racism, but in an age-appropriate way.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.89  · 
Rating details
 ·  122,203 ratings  ·  4,767 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Maniac Magee
Mar 06, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it did not like it
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 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
the bard
Jul 12, 2021 rated it did not like it
i just remembered that i read this for school in 4th grade and now my day is ruined
Jeffrey Mohr
Jan 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Re-read in prep for teaching it to my younger group of kids this year. The structure of the book lends itself very well to teaching it in chunks and to illustrate its points clearly, which isn't why it's a classic of early middle school, I assume. Extra star for that- looking forward to discussions that arise from it. ...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
Aug 03, 2013 rated it it was ok
"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
Rodolfo A.
Feb 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Karina Escajeda
Nov 26, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: edu-511-513
Welp, I had heard about this book for so long that I wanted to like it more, but I found myself caught up in 'wait this was written in 1990?' confusion. It just doesn't ring true on issues of race and class in the US, a white guy is trying to write about black issues, for a white audience that become voyeurs. Also, it's super sexist, with traditional 'mom' roles throughout. And Mainiac somehow managed to become a white savior at age 12. It's just awful. ...more
Aj Sterkel
Aug 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: middle-grade
This actually isn’t the first time I’ve listened to Maniac Magee. A teacher read it to our class when I was 9 or 10 years old. All I remembered about it was that the main character could run really fast. Yeah. My nine-year-old self completely missed the point of most literature, but I remember enjoying the story.

Maniac Magee stars a homeless kid (who can run really fast). He finds himself in a racially segregated town and impresses both the black kids and the white kids with his extraordinary at
Nelson B.
Feb 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 11, 2021 rated it really liked it
'Maniac Magee" by Jerry Spinelli is about a little boy named Jeffrey Lionel Magee. When he was only three years old, his parents died in a P&W high-speed trolley accident. Magee was then sent to his nearest relatives, Aunt Dot and Uncle Dan. However, he didn't like his life there. One day, when Magee was already 11, he finally decided to leave the house. He ran a long long way from Hollidaysburg all the way to Two Mills and started his new life there. Magee would live in the zoo and sleep with t ...more
I’m very conflicted about reviewing this book. Ever since childhood, I had always wanted to read it, but I never got around to it. Now that I have, I’m not sure what I would have thought of it then, and I wonder if I would have interpreted it differently than I do as an adult.

Maniac Magee tells the story of how Jeffrey Magee becomes a legend in his small town after his parents die in a freak accident. What follows is a series of episodic feats that border on myth about a boy who changes the live
Hilary "Fox"
Maniac Magee is a book that stuck with me long after I read it in fifth grade for the first time. It stuck with me more than in just a life-long love of Butterscotch Krumpets, but also in the sweetness of the main character and the good that he finds in - well, everyone. Everyone wants to belong in some way, and often all it takes is a listening ear and sincerity to find the way to that person's heart. This book shows that in a way that is accessible to a kid, touching to an adult, and just... ...more
Jul 04, 2011 rated it did not like it
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
Victor The Reader
A surprisingly witty and emotional story about a boy who becomes someone special in a segregated town. Jeffrey Lionel Magee, before he becomes “Maniac”, loses his parents in a tragic accident and is sent to live with his uncle and aunt who have a far from happy marriage. Unable to put up with it, he abruptly runs away and keeps running for miles and miles and finds himself in the town of Two Mills, which is divided by Eastenders and Westenders. He starts to become part of many people’s lives and ...more
Jennifer (JenIsNotaBookSnob)
First of all, the writing is peppy and the kids are fun- I'd like to try another Spinelli book. This one isn't a recommended read for modern children though because of the inadequate way that race is handled. If you loved this book, you may want to skip the rest of my review below.

Problematic. This book is supposedly about a kid name Maniac Magee but is really just a cringefest of race relations in a segregated town. I wasn't able to catch on to whether or not this book actually takes place dur
Patti Richards
Jan 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 07, 2009 rated it it was ok
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. ...more
Daniel Clausen
Mar 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: top-books
I still can't find the words to express what this book means to me. When I was in fifth grade reading this book, I felt like Magee. This book is as deep and soulful as any book that has ever been written for adults. I hope it remains on elementary school reading lists for years to come. ...more
I do not recommend this classic. It is outdated. It upholds White supremacy. Maniac's moral superiority about colorblindness ignores and minimizes the the systemic (institutional) racism that created and maintains the segregated town he infiltrates. ...more
Haley Annabelle
I wouldn’t say that there was anything spectacular about this book. But it was pretty good. Young boys would probably like it a lot.
Although most modern books try to deal with racism iba liberal in-your-face kind of way, I actually liked Spinelli’s treatment of this topic. It was sweet to see through the eyes of a child.

My favorite part was when Amanda finally stirs Maniac to action, literally kicking him in the right direction. Amanda is great ;)
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 like a m ...more
Mrs. Rogers
Nov 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
Apr 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Really good book! I read it more than once!
Janie Lee
Feb 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
OMG! I forgot I read this until now, I loved this book!!! The story of Magee is do interesting.
Andrew Munroe
Apr 03, 2017 rated it it was ok
The ending of the book wasn't as I would think the writer would've ended it. Some parts of the book were confusing and hard to understand. ...more
Dec 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was one of my favorite books as a kid. It's also my 12 year old's current favorite. I decided to read again and it is just as good as I remember. ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Bud, Not Buddy
  • Shiloh (Shiloh, #1)
  • Dear Mr. Henshaw (Leigh Botts, #1)
  • Walk Two Moons
  • Frindle
  • Hatchet (Brian's Saga, #1)
  • Freak the Mighty (Freak The Mighty, #1)
  • Because of Winn-Dixie
  • The Whipping Boy
  • Missing May
  • The View from Saturday
  • Esperanza Rising
  • Tuck Everlasting
  • A Year Down Yonder (A Long Way from Chicago, #2)
  • The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963
  • Number the Stars
  • Island of the Blue Dolphins
  • Out of the Dust
See similar books…
See top shelves…
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

Related Articles

Ready to see some of your favorite stories come to life? Hollywood producers, directors, and actors are continuing their obsession...
193 likes · 100 comments
“Nobody knows who said it first, but somebody must have: 'Kid's gotta be a maniac.” 27 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.” 26 likes
More quotes…