A fun read full of laughs and lessons.
Author: Jerry Spinelli
Number of pages: 184
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Age range: 7 years and older
A 1991 Newbery award winner, Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli is on many schools’ summer reading lists. From my point of view, however, this must-read story is an excellent choice for pleasure reading due to its wonderful humor and valuable life lessons.
The story takes place in Two Mills where a 12-year-old orphan named Jeffery Lionel—also known as a legend in the making—wanders around town doing incredible things.
As he grows more and more popular, people begin talking about the crazy things he does. For example, he hits the world’s first “frogball” and scores 49 touchdowns in one football game. That, in fact, is how he gets the nickname Maniac Magee.
Tensions between the races in town confuse poor Jeffery, but the kindness of his heart and his innocence allow him to break the barrier between the white people from the West End and the black people from the East End. Not only does Maniac Magee become a local hero, along the way he gets a new, loving family, and manages to change the lives of all the new people he meets—not to mention his own as well.
This story is one of my favorites because it is a heart warming tale that makes you laugh and cry, while teaching you that anyone can make a difference, even a raggedy orphan.
“Legends are made, not born,” says the author, and he is so right!
PHOTO: Book Cover Courtesy Little, Brown Books for Young Readers