The Birth of a Legend
Fiction – Juvenile
Reading Level: Age Range: 11 and up
Publication Date: 1990
Literary awards: Newbery Medal (1991), Rebecca Caudill Young Reader's Book Award (1993), Charlotte Award (1992), Nene Award (1996), Massachusetts Children's Book Award (1993) Flicker Tale Children's Book Award (1992), Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children's Book Award (1992), Pacific Northwest Library Association Young Reader's Choice Award (1993), Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis Nominee for Jugendbuch (2001), New Mexico Land of Enchantment Award (1993)
In a town divide by race, Jeffery Lionel “Maniac” Magee, shows up to defy the norm and birth a legend that crosses boundaries and breaks down barriers.
My class read this John Newberry Medal winner back when I was in 5th grade, but I only vaguely remembered that I like it and a few other snippets from the story. Wishing to refresh my memory and relive my childhood I settled in to read the tale of Maniac Magee. From page one I fell under the spell of this story. Well-constructed, with a nice rhythm and very engaging writing the spirited and cheeky narrator regales you with story of Jeffery Magee and how he brought together a town. Jeffery Magee is a lovable character who displays athleticism, strength, independence, depth of emotion and vulnerability. His inability to see race makes him unique in a town where you’re race defines most of your life. The author Spinelli uses this legend to dissect the issue of race versus just people in a relatable way that can span many ages. I would say it is a very nice tool for helping younger children understand that we are all just people while giving its more mature readers a good quality, multi-layered story with depth to enjoy.
ISBN 0590452037 (ISBN13: 9780590452038)