Having just won a year's worth of free pizza, Maniac Magee's understandably in a happy mood. Sadly, his feeling of joy doesn't last for very long. Amanda has discovered, much to her horror, that her encyclopedia volume A has been torn to shreds.
This volume was Amanda's prized possession; she was always reading it. It was all the more precious to her as it was the only volume that she had. The special offer at the supermarket on the other volumes had run out, and so Amanda had to make do with volume A. But she made the most of what little reading matter she had and was determined to read it the whole way through, from aardvark to Aztec.
One can only imagine how devastated she is to discover that her book has been willfully destroyed. Maniac feels hurt too, but he knows that it's nothing compared to how Amanda's feeling. And although it wasn't Maniac who destroyed Amanda's book, he somehow feels responsible for what happened.
He knows that whoever did this was trying to send a message: that it's not acceptable for a white boy to be living with a Black family. The last thing that Maniac wants to do is to let the racist bullies win. But at the same time, he wants to protect the Beales; he doesn't want them to be bothered anymore on his account. And so, with that in mind, he leaves town in the middle of the night.