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Ideas for a Unit Test on Maniac Magee

written by: Patricia Gable • edited by: Kellie Hayden • updated: 1/4/2012

If your students are studying Newbery winners, racism issues or themes about making a difference in the world, Maniac Magee is a great book to use. An eleven-year-old homeless boy makes a difference in a racially divided city.

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    33344557.JPG Maniac Magee is a book about an eleven-year-old homeless boy who loves to read, values education and does not understand why there are two distinct sections of the town: one for black people and one for white people. The book used the words "black" and "white" when referencing the race of each person and neighborhood in the book. Use this Maniac Magee unit test to check students' comprehension after reading the book.

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    Questions by Chapter

    The chapters in this book are short. Use these chapter questions with your student as each chapter is completed, or after the student has finished the entire book. Brief answers are provided but the student may want to elaborate. If the student is unable to answer, go back to the chapter and reread it to find the answer.

    Chapter Questions:

    One

    a. What happened to Jeffrey’s (Maniac’s) parents?

    They were killed in an accident on a train trestle.

    b. After eight years, Jeffrey ran away from his aunt and uncle’s house. Why?

    The aunt and uncle did not like each other and did not talk or share anything.

    Two

    a. Jeffrey ran and kept on running. Where did he end up and why?

    He stopped at Two Mills. People think it is because it was close to where he was born and also because he made a friend.

    Three

    a.What did Amanda Beale have that was of interest to Jeffrey?

    A suitcase full of books.

    Four

    a. What did Jeffrey do that stunned the boys who were playing football?

    He intercepted a pass, ran for a touchdown without being touched and kicked the ball back to the receiver-all while hanging on to Amanda’s book.

    Five and Six

    a. What did Jeffrey do in the forbidden yard of the Finsterwald’s?

    He rescued Arnold Jones who was thrown into the backyard as a joke.

    Seven and Eight

    a. Describe what happened with a frog in the baseball game.

    When Jeffrey hit every pitch it angered McNab so he threw a frog instead of a ball. Jeffrey managed to turn the frog hit into a homerun without hurting the frog.

    Nine

    a. John McNab and his gang, the Cobras, chased him but stopped at Hector Street, why?

    It was the dividing line between the black and the white sections of the town.

    Ten and Eleven

    a. What was unusual about Maniac taking a bite of the candy that was offered by Mars Bar Thompson?

    He was a white boy taking a bite of a candy bar where the black boy had bitten.

    Twelve through Fifteen

    a. How did Mr. Beale know that Maniac did not live in the house that he claimed was his?

    They were in the black side of town and Maniac was white.

    Twelve through Fifteen

    a. How did Mr. Beale know that Maniac did not live in the house that he claimed was his?

    They were in the black side of town and Maniac was white.

    Sixteen

    a. What was it that Maniac could not understand?

    Why the color of someone’s skin made any difference to anyone.

    Seventeen through Twenty-one

    a. Why did Maniac finally leave his home at the Beales?

    He loved them enough not to let them get hurt by the vicious actions of others.

    Twenty-Two throughTwenty-five

    a. Who is Grayson and how did he help Maniac?

    Maniac met Grayson at the zoo. Grayson took care of him, fed him and gave him a place to stay.

    Twenty-six through Thirty-one

    a. How did Grayson and Maniac spend their time in the months before Christmas?

    They worked together at the zoo. Maniac taught Grayson how to read and Grayson taught Maniac about baseball.

    Thirty-two and Thirty-three

    a. After Grayson died, what did Maniac do?

    He wandered for days around town in the cold.

    Thirty-four andThirty-five

    a. How did Maniac end up staying at the McNab house?

    He brought the little McNab boys home when they were trying to run away.

    b. Describe the McNab house.

    Filthy, rodents and insects, dead bird, hole in ceiling, smell of trash, etc.

    Thirty-six

    a. List some of the deals Maniac made with the McNab boys to get them to go to school.

    (Pizza, map to Mexico, displays of athletic feats to impress friends,etc.)

    Thirty-seven and Thirty-eight

    a. What was the final challenge by the young McNab boys?

    Maniac had to go to the east side (the black side of town).

    b. What happened with Mars Bar?

    Mars wanted to race with Maniac and was embarrassed when Maniac beat him in front of everyone.

    Thirty-nine and Forty

    a. What was going on at the McNab’s?

    They built a fort inside their house with cinder blocks to prepare for a time when the blacks would rise up against them. Maniac still stayed there at night with a desire to help the little boys learn good things in the midst of all the bad going on.

    Forty-one and Forty-two

    a. What happened at the McNab birthday party?

    Maniac was told to bring a guest and he brought Mars (a black guy).

    Forty-three and Forty-four

    a. When the McNab boy needed rescued, what happened?

    Maniac couldn’t help because it was the same place where his parents died. So Mars (black) saved a McNab (white).

    Forty-five and Forty-six

    a. Who came to get Maniac from his shelter at the zoo?

    Mars and Amanda. He was going to have a home again at Amanda’s.

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    Book Characters

    Ask your student to describe each character and how they took part in the story. The book used the words "black" and "white" when referencing the race of each person and neighborhood in the book.

    Jeffrey "Maniac" Magee - (white) orphan boy who traveled around the area of his birth. He did not understand racial intolerance.

    Amanda Beale - (black) loved books, lived in a welcoming, loving family.

    James "Hands" Down - (white) football player who was impressed by Maniac's athletic talent.

    John McNab - (white) Skilled baseball pitcher from a bigoted family; had two little brothers.

    Mars Bar Thompson - (black) tough guy who ended up learning a lesson about tolerance from Maniac.

    Grayson - (white) old man who took care of Maniac; Maniac taught him to read and Grayson taught him about baseball.

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    With the Maniac Magee unit test, you will assess your students' comprehension of the book and/or prepare for a more comprehensive report or exam. It could also open up a dialogue about the sensitive topic of racism.