Maniac Magee Ideas for Reports and Papers
by Jerry Spinelli

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Ideas for Reports and Papers

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

1. Study a map of Pennsylvania. Find all the references to geographic places in the book (the Sckuylkill and Valley Forge, for example). Can you identify the towns and compute or estimate some of the distances that Maniac ran?

2. Near the end of the book, Mars Bar offers to let Maniac live with him, and Maniac refuses. Then, Amanda orders him home with her. Write another chapter that might have occurred if he had gone with Mars Bar or a chapter about when he goes to Amanda's.

3. Critics have classified Maniac Magee as realistic fiction, legend, a morality play, and partly myth. Research the characteristics of each of these types of literature, and decide how you would classify the book. Support your answer with specific references to characteristics that match the book.

4. Amanda, John McNab, Mars Bar, and Grayson all befriend Maniac. Make a list of traits that describe each of these characters. Are any of them similar for all four characters? If so, what are they? Does Maniac share any of the common characteristics?

5. Almost all cultures have myths, legends, and folk tales. With a group of classmates, read examples of each. How does Maniac Magee compare to them?

6. Spinelli has been described by his publisher as a man who "gets it right" about boys growing into men, girls who defy stereotypes, prejudice, unconditional love, and the magic of young people (Keller). Find examples of how these topics are dealt with in Maniac Magee. Do you think he "gets them right"? Why or why not?

7. Maniac appears to be an introspective person who might keep an interesting journal. Choose one of the three parts of the book, and write a journal that Maniac might have kept at that time.