"Maniac Magee" is the story of an orphaned runaway who finds himself in a racially divided town, although he does not notice this division himself. Upon arriving in Two Mills, the Beales, a black family living on the east side of town, take him into their home.
Most of the townspeople, both black and white, do not like the idea of a white boy living with a black family in an entirely black neighborhood, so Magee goes around town completing feats of strength and athleticism in an attempt to win the favor of Two Mills' residents. His plan fails, and the Beales undergo an onslaught of abuse and ridicule. Magee runs away again to spare them this hardship and takes up residence with a family of buffalo. In the time that he is gone, racial tensions ease in Two Mills. Magee's adopted sister, Amanda Beale, tracks him down and brings him back. For the first time in his life, Magee has a home and a family.
Written by Jerry Spinelli in 1990, "Maniac Magee" received widespread acclaim from critics and won the Newberry Medal for children's literature. The book is a common fixture in elementary school curricula throughout the United States.