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Saturday, February 18, 2006

cover of Maniac Magee

A Newbery medal winner. Well worth reading. I read this in the early 90s, but apparently I'm on a Spinelli reading kick, so I decided to reread this one as well. Themes of hope, family, home, not fitting into societal boundaries, and lots of humor thrown in. Maniac Magee is a kid who runs everywhere. We get a glimpse of his not so comforting past, and then see his interactions in a town called Two Mills. The town is segregated black and white, but Maniac doesn't seem to notice or care. His actions make everyone question some of their assumptions, for the better.

One fun trait of Maniac is his physical prowess. He can run for hours, catch a football and throw it long distance, easily hit homeruns, and untie crazy knots. This sets him apart from others, but he doesn't use it to hurt anyone or to prove himself superior. It is simply one facet of who he is, and another way that he relates to the world. Maniac likes going running in the morning, before everyone is up, and while the boundary between east side and west side doesn't really exist. Near the end of the novel, he gets a running partner and they run side by side. Breathing together and runinng together and becoming one for a small piece of time.

Amanda Beale might be my favorite character. She meets Maniac the first day he's in town and lends him a book from her suitcase. You see, she has to take her books with her to school everyday because otherwise her 3- & 4-year-old siblings will write all over them and her dog will chew them up. So, she carries her treasured books with her. And maniac ends up at her house for a while, living with her family and bringing some sanity to them as well as getting to be included. The Beales happen to live on the east side of town, and Maniac 'should' live on the west side of town, but he doesn't care and neither do they. Amanda has enough spunk to stand up to the meanest kid her side of town and to stand up for the truth no matter what. It's fun to see that in a young character, and really believe it possible.

Title:Maniac Magee
Author: Jerry Spinelli
Date published:1990
Genre:Young Adult
Number of pages:184
Notes: repeat reading (no idea what number..)


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