By: Jerry Spinelli
Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Maniac Magee is about a young boy who is orphaned as a child and goes to live with his aunt and uncle for eight years. But Jeffrey (maniac) soon gets tired of his life with his aunt and uncle and decides to "run" away. Jeffrey is an amazing athlete and he soon finds himself in the town of Two Mills, Pennsylvania, a town that is extremely racially segregated. Jeffrey stays for a while with the Beales, a black family, but building pressure soon forces Jeffrey away and he goes and lives at the zoo with an old man who is the janitor there until the janitor dies and then he goes and lives with the town hicks, the Mcnabs, an extremely racist family who are convinced that a race war is the only way to solve anything. Throughout the book, Jeffrey changes lives by just being himself and teaches them the importance of acceptance, compassion and love.
Who Would Benefit from Reading this book?
I think that any parent who is concerned about teaching their children about the race issues that plagued and still plague our society today would benefit from having their children read this book. It presents race issues in such a way that is not offensive nor is it confusing and gives children an opportunity to think and to form their own ideas and opinions.
What problems or conflicts could this book potentially cause?
I don't see this book causing any problems. It brings awareness to the issue of racism and the effect that it had and is still having on our society today.
What was your reaction?
I really liked this book. I liked how it was so realistic and you got to get a pick at the different types of families and how they lived, laughed and loved within the racist and racially segregated environment of the United States in the 1960's.