Maniac Magee

by Jerry Spinelli

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Maniac Magee

This Newbery Medal winner tells the mythical tale of a legendary hero: 12-year-old Jeffrey Magee – known as Maniac Magee. An orphan with no place to call home, Maniac Magee enters Two Mills, a town sharply divided by race. Magee's athletic skills, combined with his nonjudgmental way, lead the people of Two Mills to overcome segregation, racial profiling, and ignorance.

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Enrichment Activities
Internet Resources
Books by Jerry Spinelli

Enrichment Activities

  • Authors Live Interview with Jerry Spinelli
    Use this interview transcript of TeacherVision's Authors Live with Newbery Award-winning author Jerry Spinelli. Share with your class the questions that students from around the country asked Mr. Spinelli.

  • Character Traits Chart
    There are many notable characters in this story who possess exceptional traits. Construct a chart that lists the traits of the main characters in Maniac Magee: Amanda Beale, Maniac Magee, John McNab, Earl Grayson, Mars Bar Thompson, Russell and Piper McNab. Use the character traits chart as a word bank.

  • Home Sweet Home
    Maniac is searching for a home. Explore the meaning of "home" with your students. Have them create a shape poem, a recycled poem, a poem of alliterations, an acrostic poem, a limerick, a haiku , or other type of poem that reflects how they feel about their home.

  • Hyperbole Hunt
    There are numerous examples of hyperbole (extravagant exaggeration; example: "arms and legs pistoning to a blur") in Maniac Magee. Break your class into teams of three students, hold a Hyperbole Scavenger Hunt, and see which team can come up with the most finds. It is fun to have the students illustrate the hyperboles' literal meanings.

  • Maniac for Mayor
    Pretend that Maniac is running for mayor of Two Mills. Have your students design an election poster and campaign slogan for him. Then, assign them to write and deliver endorsement speeches in favor of Maniac for Mayor.

  • Oral History
    Maniac Magee learns about Grayson from the tales the old man tells. Have your students learn more about a significant elderly person in his/her life. Use this worksheet to help the students and the interviewed person get started.

  • Tall Tales
    Maniac Magee has many of the elements of a tall tale:
    • A superhuman main character who has a unique mission to accomplish
    • A problem that is often resolved humorously
    • Frequent use of hyperbole and exaggeration
    • Characters who appear normal in most respects
    Have your students research a tall tale character: e.g., Paul Bunyon, Johnny Appleseed, Pecos Bill, John Henry, John Chapman, Davy Crockett. Then have them draw a Venn diagram to compare and contrast the tall tale characteristics of Manic Magee with their research character.

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