Maniac Magee - Study Guide

Progeny Press

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Grade Range: 6-8

Setting: Pennsylvania

Genre: Homelessness, Racism

Page Count: 56 + Answer Key

Approximate Completion Time: 9 weeks

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Two Mills is a town divided by race. The white people live on the west side of Hector Street, and the black people live on the east side. But Maniac, who is white, doesn't recognize the barrier. He quickly befriends a black girl and soon finds himself invited to live with the Beales, a family on the East End. Maniac seems to have found a warm, loving home at last, but there are some on the East End who do not want a white boy living among them.
Because he fears what might happen to the Beales, Maniac runs away again. When Earl Grayson discovers Maniac living in the buffalo pen at the Elmwood Park Zoo, he takes him into his care. Grayson is a park worker, but Maniac quickly discovers that Grayson was once a pitcher in the minor leagues. As Grayson shares tales of his short-lived baseball career, he also reveals to Maniac that he cannot read. With patience and encouragement, Maniac begins to help the old man learn to read. It seems that Maniac has found a new home living in the equipment room at the park's band shell, but the unexpected death of the old man sends Maniac on the run and deep in despair.
A chance encounter with two young runaways brings Maniac back to the West End of Two Mills and the dysfunctional McNab home. There he sees the terrible effects of the racial barrier in Two Mills, and in his own small way, Maniac decides to make a difference. A modern tall tale about a homeless boy whose legendary feats bring together a town divided by distrust and misunderstanding!

Progeny Press English/Language Arts curriculum provides your Middle School grade student with:

About the Author: Explore Jerry Spinelli's life and inspirations that shaped the creation of the novel.
Vocabulary: Study words used throughout the novel, expanding your vocabulary through fun and engaging exercises.
Literary Techniques: Gain appreciation for good writing by exploring the literary techniques employed. Learn to use dictionaries, understand metaphors and similes, and identify hyperbole and descriptive writing. Study synonyms and points of view, extended metaphors, conflicts, complications, resolutions, themes, and parallel narratives within the story.
Moral Lessons and Character Values:  Go beyond basic reading comprehension. Reflect on the differences between facts and truth, appreciate the sanctity of marriage, discuss the power of wholesome talk, and identify issues of racism within the narrative. Analyze how God views the human heart, the significance of prayer and thankfulness, and how to navigate despair in order to find peace. Discuss the importance of loving our neighbors, our universal equality in Christ
Activities and Writing Assignments: Learn mapwork, explore folk tales, and engage in class discussions on racism and its effects. Express your thoughts through essay writing, and explore the issue of homelessness.
Suggestions for Further Reading:  Expand your library with more books by the Jerry Spinelli, and additional books that tie in with, or are similar to, Maniac Magee.

All of Progeny Press' Language Arts unit lessons are written from a Christian worldview!

Features and Benefits of a Progeny Press ELA study guide

Printed Workbook Format

  • Large 8.5x11 format is convenient to read and easy on Middle School student's eyes
  • Every question in our novel unit study has plenty of whitespace for middle school level student answers
  • Encourages neat and clean handwriting practice
  • Easily transports without the need for a laptop or other expensive equipment
  • Provides a permanent record of the middle school student’s work
  • Complete, removable answer key included for the teacher to make grading simple!

CD Format

  • Contains the complete study guide in universally compatible PDF format (works on Mac AND Windows)
  • No costly software purchases necessary
  • PDf files open in the FREE Adobe Reader program.
    Note: Mobile devices may require an alternative app that supports and saves fillable form fields and interactive features.
  • Upgraded, fillable form fields allow the student the opportunity to complete their work on the computer, saving you printing costs
  • Conveniently print what you need, when you need it:
    • Print the whole ELA study guide at once
    • Print single literature lessons or pages as the student completes them
    • Print multiple copies of the entire curriculum study guide for classroom sets
  • PDF format makes it easy to use with multiple students
  • Complete answer key PDF file included for the teacher to make grading simple!

Formatted with your Middle School grade student in mind, Progeny Press language arts study guides divide the book into writing assignments and lessons that strengthen their reading comprehension, vocabulary, and refine their critical analysis and writing skills. Each Progeny Press novel study accomplishes all of this without busy work that can drain the fun out of reading and literature! Kids have loved using Progeny Press ELA curriculum in homeschool, co-ops, and private schools around the world for over 30 years!

Book Awards:
Newbery Medal Winner 1991   •   Horn Book, Carolyn Field, Charlotte   •   Dorothy Canfield Fisher   •   Mark Twain Award   •   Rebecca Caudill Young Reader's Book   •   William Allen White   •   U.S. National Ed. Assoc. "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children”   •   School Library Journal all-time kid's novels

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Progeny Press