Monday, October 10, 2011

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Maniac Magee


Shannon Whitney Messenger created Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays to celebrate some fabulous MG books. This week I've decided to play along! :) Check out Shannon's place to see who else is playing.




Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli

This is a fabulous book! On the surface its a light-hearted book about a boy who's trying to find his place. On deeper levels it's about so much more: racism, kindness, friendship, courage, risk-taking, love, the power of books, and the importance of education.

Spinelli is a master at making kids laugh. The situations Maniac gets into are hilarious and daring and plain ol' fun. Maniac is a great kid who wants an address and a family to go with it. He copes with all the traumas and disasters of his life by running. When he runs into a town firmly divided into black and white, he wants to stay. Wants to belong. He doesn't 'see' the colours, doesn't understand the divisions and that helps everyone around him do the same.

My students always love this book when I read it aloud. It's full of fun and adventure. And they LOVE the messages the story contains. We have tons of conversations and they're very thankful that our world doesn't have problems like racism anymore. And yes, I teach in a school with kids from many different cultures! Don't you just love kids??? :)

What other books do you know of that deal successfully with serious topics in a light-hearted manner?

52 comments:

  1. Yay for a book the kids you teach love! that's the best review!! Take care
    x

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  2. Old Kitty - I agree! Kids are so honest. When they love a book, they let you know. When they hate one, they let you know too! :)

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  3. I haven't heard of this one - thank you for the review. And happy Thanksgiving!

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  4. The Harry Potter series weaves the element of racism into the story. Mudbloods, muggles, squids, and elves are discriminated against. And the Malfoys are portrayed as pasty white people who talk with a drawl. So here is one example that is not necessarily light hearted, but it is certainly not front and center stage. yet its there.

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  5. Ooh, sounds great! Thank you for sharing this with us. I'll have to let my son know about this read.

    Happy Monday!


    ♥.•*¨Elizabeth¨*•.♥

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  6. Jemi, I just love it when kids and their innocence bring out the best in us. This book sounds fantastic and I'm sure you're the perfect teacher to present it to them. Thanks for pointing this one out - I think I know a few kids who might enjoy it.

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  7. Talli - you're welcome! It's a fabulous MG adventure. Kids love it :)

    Stephen - good example! There really is a lot of heavy themes explored by JKR in those books. She does such a good job of making us see them!

    Elizabeth - you're welcome! I think your son would really enjoy it - it's a great book with a fabulous voice!

    TK - it really is a good book! I don't know if I've ever had a kid NOT like it. Powerful stuff. And I agree - kids always bring out the best in us!

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  8. That's a great classic. It just never gets old!! :-)

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  9. Shannon - it really is one of my favourites! :)

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  10. I LOVED this book! It was one of the first books I ever created a unit for. I got Jerry to sign a copy for me when I met him at a Highlight's Foundation conference.

    Awesome book to spotlight!

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  11. Great review! And I love MG books. Will have to check this one out for sure! Thanks ;)

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  12. Great review, and a great book! JOEY PIGZA LOSES CONTROL by Jack Gantos is another great one. It's about kids with ADD but uses enough humor that the kids don't realize there's a lesson in with the laughs.

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  13. Sounds like a good read. Thanks for sharing and glad to hear that your class loves it. When I was teaching it certainly took something special to please my kids.

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  14. This is such a fabulous book. I encourage all my reluctant readers (esp. the boys) to pick up this one, if they haven't already.

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  15. Wonderful post Jemi, most enjoyable to read.

    Yvonne.

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  16. Sharon - I'm so jealous! I'd love to have a signed copy too. He's written an amazing book! :)

    Cherie - thanks! There are so many great MG books out there - it's fun to spotlight them!

    Mindy - I love Joey Pigza too! I'll have to dig that one out again! :)

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  17. Rosalind - there are so many good books out there! It's fun when you find one that really clicks with the kids :)

    Mary - yes! It's a great one for those kids who don't think they'll like reading!

    Yvonne - thanks! It's a terrific book! :)

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  18. I'm embarrassed to say I have not read this! Thanks for highlighting great MG reads. And thanks for reading them to your class! I'm a big believer in kids that get read to grow to be readers.

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  19. Terry - I agree! The kids in my class love Read Aloud time. If we miss a day, they get very upset!! And they love to discuss all the books too - it's awesome! :)

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  20. How cool, Jemi! I love that kids don't believe there's racism anymore. Let's hope that mindset brings about the reality too.

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  21. Lisa - exactly! We have a bunch of different cultures in the room, and it's so cool to hear them talk and assume racism isn't a problem anywhere. How could it be? Love it!

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  22. Thanks for highlighting great MG reads.

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  23. When I was substitute teaching I read a few chapters aloud to a fifth grade class and liked it. Thanks for the reminder to get the book and read the whole thing!

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  24. Welcome to MMGM, Jemi!! Spinelli is a great writer.

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  25. Nas - you're very welcome! It's a pleasure to do :)

    Kelly - it's an awesome read! The kids adore it and there's so much to learn from it!

    Michael - Thank you so much!! I'm thrilled to be here :) And I agree - love Spinelli!

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  26. We can learn a lot from children.

    I haven't read this book, but I'm certainly going to put it on my list. Excellent review, Jemi :)

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  27. Wendy - we sure can! It's one of the best parts of my job!

    Thanks so much, Wendy :)

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  28. This is a classic -- and on my TBR list. :) I need to get back to that TBR list. I keep getting distracted. :)

    Amy

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  29. I read Maniac Magee years ago and I'd like to read it again.

    I enjoy these MMGM posts. :)

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  30. I've been meaning to read a Jerry Spinelli, thanks for the review, Jemi :)

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  31. Amy - I get so distracted too! Shiny new books pop up and take my attention from that list too! :)

    Medeia - me too! I'm so glad Shannon started them - brilliant! And Maniac is well worth a re-read :)

    Catherine - I think you'll enjoy Maniac. Spinelli is a master at entertaining kids... and adults :)

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  32. I don't think I've ever read a Spinelli book I don't love. He's an amazing writer.

    Another great MG is SAVVY by Ingrid Law. She does a masterful job of tackling hope and the feeling of responsibility kids have when things outside their control go wrong.

    Great entertainment value while hiding a beautiful life lesson.

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  33. hi miss jemi! hooray for middle grade monday!!! im just real happy youre doing it. you picked a cool book for it.
    ...hugs from lenny

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  34. Thanks for the lead on a good book for my middle schoolers.

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  35. Cat - I haven't read that one yet! I'll have to look it up - sounds terrific! :)

    Lenny - thanks! I think it's a really cool book too - so much fun in it. I'm glad I jumped on board too! :)

    Linda - I think they'll enjoy it! It's a great story with a fabulous main character!

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  36. I don't know if it qualifies, but I just finished Every Soul A Star by Wendy Mass. I loved that Mass wasn't afraid to use multiple POVs. It's a great lesson in valuing our differences. Plus, the tie-in to astronomy is fascinating.

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  37. VR - that sounds really cool! I love when the research shows up in interesting tidbits throughout like they're woven in. Takes talent for that! :)

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  38. The only book I can think of is Anne Frank! It is very serious but Anne's everyday challenges are also somewhat light-hearted, and teens of every era can connect to her. I need to raid my daughter's book case where Spinelli books lie, and steal them for a read!

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  39. Wow, I just got given a copy of this! A friend picked it out as one of his all time favourite books and said I had to read it. I'm looking forward to it even more now!

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  40. Lynn - Anne Frank is an awesome example! She is such a normal teen with a huge heart - and then hell hits.

    Amie - Awesome! I really think it's a fabulous book. So many layers and messages wrapped up in fun!

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  41. I love this book! And now I realize I need to read it again.

    Maybe I'll join in on MMMG one of these weeks. . .

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  42. Janet - this was my first week! I've always loved Shannon's posts (both Shannons actually) and thought it would be fun to join in! :)

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  43. Thanks for the heads up on this one Jemi! Sounds like a wonderful book. Hope you are well. :)
    Lisa ~ YA Literature Lover

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  44. Lisa - nice to hear from you! I hope things are going well for you too! I'm crazy busy, but good :) I think you'll enjoy Maniac - such fun!

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  45. This book sounds great. I do love kids... so much!

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  46. RaShelle - me too! They see the world through a lens of optomism - it's wonderful! :)

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  47. I get excited every time I see that gold circle on a book. It reminds me of the library and the clear covers they put over the dust jacket...that little pocket with the card stamped with the due date. It's almost pavolvian. I get all charged up and I want to go check out the maximum number of books allowed!

    Nice review. Thanks for stopping by Jemi!

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  48. Wine & Words - you're very welcome!

    I love the Newberry awards too! It really does cause those special feelings! Nothing quite like getting those library cards stamped - such a feeling of power! :)

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  49. Oh yay! One of my favorite books! I loved this when I was a kid and I still love it.

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  50. Amber - me too! It's SUCH a good book. All my students love it! :)

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  51. I ADORE this book. We have a knot untying contest in my class as a tribute to that portion of the story. LOSER by Jerry Spinelli gives another "stick with you" character in Donald Zinkoff.

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  52. Leslie - what an awesome idea!! I may have to steal it next time i read the book. It would be fun to have a knot the size of a volleyball! :)

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