Maniac Magee

Maniac Magee
Author: Jerry Spinelli
Lexile® measure: 820L
Guided Reading: W

My Recommended Age: 11 and up

With a name like Maniac Magee, who wouldn't want to read this book?

Orphaned Jeffrey Lionel Magee, known as Maniac Magee, is a legend. Maniac could run farther and faster than anyone; he could hit an inside-the-park home run using not a ball, but an unsuspecting frog; he could even untie Cobble Corner's knot without breaking a sweat. But the thing Maniac Magee is best known for is what he did for the kids from the East Side and the West Side... he dissolved the barrier that separated them. The most fantastic part is that he didn't even know it was there or why.  Set in a time of separate but equal, Maniac Magee is a hero everyone will love. He accepts people regardless of age, color, height, or living circumstances, and he truly cares about everyone. Maniac shows what true love is.

As great as this book is, and as much I enjoyed it, I do not agree with the publisher's recommended reading age. This book is full of racial stereotypes, language (mostly racial and bathroom related), children smoking, hatred, underage drinking, and stealing. Maniac is a runaway, yet the book NEVER addresses the obvious problem of an unhappy eight year old running away from his guardians and ending up two hundred miles away living in a zoo pen. He befriends people along the way, and fortunately none of them hurt him, but, I don't want my nine year old thinking the YMCA is a great place to meet old single men, who bring them gifts...

I really enjoyed this book, but as with all great books that have great messages, this book begs to be talked about. The story is geared toward a young audience,, and it is extremely well written. I would recommend this book for most upper-age elementary kids, but only you, the parent, know best. Regardless of when you hand this to your sweet darling, PLEASE PLEASE talk them about it...or read it with book maybe, just talk to them.

Maniac is a great book. It is well written and there is a reason it is a Newbery!

Happy Reading

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