Book Title: Maniac Magee
Author: by Jerry Spinelli
Grade Level: 5
Type: Fiction
Topic: Realistic Fiction
Lexile: 820

Discussion Questions

  1. What kind of person was Amanda Beale? Why was she a good person for Jeffrey Magee to meet on his first day in town?
    • Amanda Beale was a no-nonsense, articulate, somewhat bossy girl who had no trouble letting other people know when she was exasperated by their behavior.
    • She was a good person for Jeffrey to meet because she was too friendly to be hostile to the white stranger who approached her.
    • She was not intimidated by Mars Barís "tough" behavior and was able to save Maniac from getting beaten up by him.
    • She had a family that welcomed Jeffrey.

  2. How did Maniac make himself welcome in both the Beale home and the McNab home, and how were these two homes different?
    • Maniac was very helpful, and his talent for attracting the admiration and cooperation of little children and for making them behave made him welcome in both homes.
    • The Beale home was clean, warm, and accepting; it provided a haven for Maniac.
    • The McNab home was violent, chaotic, and filthy; it provided a challenge for Maniac.
    • The Beale family was black and included female family members as well as male, while the McNab family was white and was all male.

  3. How were Mars Bar Thompson and Giant John McNab alike, especially in relation to Maniac Magee?
    • Both were tough-acting bullies and neighborhood leaders.
    • Both were shown up or outfoxed by Maniac Magee and resented him because of it.
    • Both came to respect Maniac Magee for the things he did, and both invited Maniac to their homes.

  4. What kind of relationship developed between Maniac Magee and Grayson? What did they give to each other?
    • When Grayson found Maniac outside the buffalo pen, neither had anybody to live with; they came to enjoy each otherís company.
    • They became like family to each other.
    • Grayson provided food and a place to stay for Maniac; he also taught him some new baseball skills and gave him a ball and glove.
    • Maniac made Grayson feel needed and appreciated; he also taught him how to read.

  5. What personal traits made it possible for Maniac Magee to change peopleís lives?
    • He approached people without prejudice or fear and accepted them for who they really were.
    • Because of his extraordinary talents, as well as his total self-confidence, people of all kinds respected him.
    • He was caring, considerate, helpful, and honest, so there were few reasons to distrust him and many reasons to like him.
    • He didnít "belong" anywhere, and thus was able to fit in everywhere.