Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli
Genre: Juvenile Fiction
Published in 1990
Recommended Age Group: 10 and Up
Summary: Maniac Magee is a Newberry Medal winning book about a legend of the same name. Also known as Jeffery Lionel Magee, Maniac is the hero and unifier of Two Mills, Pennsylvania. When Maniac ran into town there was a great divide between the people. There were the black people who lived on the East End of Hector Street and the white people who lived on the West End of Hector. As a twelve-year-old boy Jeffery didn’t understand the difference between black people and white. He didn’t understand that the white people just did not cross over to the East End. So on his first day of town he walked right over to the East End and made friends with Amanda Beale. He borrowed a book from her and then proceeded to do other unheard of things like sit on Finsterwald’s front steps and intercept a ball one handed that was meant for James “Hands” Down these things, among others, earned him the nickname Maniac.
Jeffery was a wanderer without family or home, he was orphaned at age three, he lived with some relatives but he was so unhappy there he ran away and landed, after a year of wandering, in Two Mills. He proceeded to enact social change bit by bit one miracle at a time. In the end he was a legend with a home, which is what he longed for most of all.
Personal Notes: An insightful book on the power of one fantastic person. Jeffery was able to do more for that town than anyone ever dreamed because he was able to set aside perceptions and actually get to know the people. This book teaches great lessons about the basics of humanity in the process of telling fun and interesting stories. A great story, something that I think everyone would enjoy but especially boys.