Sunday, December 30, 2007

Review: Maniac Magee

Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli

Summary (from Amazon): Maniac Magee is a folk story about a boy, a very excitable boy. One that can outrun dogs, hit a home run off the best pitcher in the neighborhood, tie a knot no one can undo. "Kid's gotta be a maniac," is what the folks in Two Mills say. It's also the story of how this boy, Jeffrey Lionel "Maniac" Magee, confronts racism in a small town, tries to find a home where there is none and attempts to soothe tensions between rival factions on the tough side of town.

My thoughts: This was my final book for the Newbery Challenge. I've always meant to read it - it's one of those fairly rare books that's an award-winner and also actually popular with kids. I can see why, it's a great story and one that would appeal to both boys and girls (especially boys, which is always welcome!). It had a lot packed into its short length - humour, fun, sadness, joy... Maniac is one of the most interesting kids' book characters I've come across in quite a while - smart, athletic, funny, resourceful, rather naive and very kind.

The only thing I didn't quite get is when it was supposed to be set - like Shiloh (which also confused me on the time front), it was published in the early nineties and appears to be set in that time, but the small-townness and the racism seems to belong to the 60's or 70's.


Anonymous said...

Spinelli comes from the Philadelphia area. I know the town it was set in and he got both the good points and the insularity of neighborhoods exactly right even today. Those are the people of a branch about 15 miles away that I worked in during the 90s.
Its a great book. Used it when chaperoning a group of 9 year olds at a weekend conference. Every time we had to wait, would pull it out and read another couple pages. All 30 kids wanted more and more.

alisonwonderland said...

i read Maniac Magee about two-a-half-years ago and loved it! interesting thoughts about the time period from both you and the anonymous comment-er.

tinylittlelibrarian said...

Thanks, anon! That's really interesting.

Alison - I'm definitely glad I finally got around to it. Now I'll understand why the kids are always asking for it (well, apart from that it's probably assigned for school).

Anonymous said...

i am reading maniac magee in my reading class and it is an inspiring story....with all the emotions in it and all the stuff he goes through..its great!.=]