Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Maniac Magee

I love middle-grade novels. They are the true home for children's literature. I hope to convince you that these novels can be as riveting as adult novels.

Maniac Magee, written by Jerry Spinelli, won the Newbery medal-the highest honor for children's literature -in 1991

This story opens with:

They say Maniac Magee was born in a dump. They say his stomach was a cereal box and his heart was a sofa spring.

They say he kept an eight-inch cockroach on a leash and that rats stood guard over him while he slept.

They say if you knew he was coming and you sprinkled salt on the ground and he ran over it, within two or three blocks he would be as slow as everybody else.
They say.

When Maniac's parents are killed, he's sent off to live with an aunt and uncle who hate each other, but won't get divorced because they're Catholic. Maniac runs away, and keeps on running until he's smack in the middle of a racially-divided neighborhood.

Maniac's life on the streets and encounters with good and bad folks of all colors is told in an almost rueful style. This story is funny, and leaves you with a tear just at the edge of your eye the whole way through.

It's a story of struggle and hope. I rate it 'very good.'


angelle said...

this is one of those YA books everyone read but somehow i never got around to. i think about doing a proj to read all the newberry winners (which i think this is, right?), so perhaps one day i will.

moonrat said...

dude, i'm on board for that project. this is one of my holes, too, actually.

Ello said...

Me too! And I definitely need to be in the know since my kids are getting into reading all these YA books soon.

Cheryl said...

I LOVE this book. A lot of wonderful little stories within a story. My favorite is probably when the mc attempts to untangle a huge knot of string in order to win a prize.

Also, this book ends up saying a lot about racism, but the lesson comes on very unexpectedly. It's quite natural to the story.

Anonymous said...

It was an exquiste book. There was lots of action. It was great that he was not afraid of anything. Even though it was a good story it seemed to repeat itself. It was sad, funny, interesting, heartwarming all rapped up together. Our class really liked it.

Mikey said...

Just finished this with my class of 5th graders. Great book with really important themes, especially for my school with a highly mixed student body. A must read!!!