October 14th, 2009 by Nancy
As expressed so well by Jamie Kelly, nicknames can make or break your school years. Example: for reasons unknown to this day, my sisters gave me the nickname “Nut.” Why, sisters, why? But it also got me thinking about a great book chock full of interesting nicknames — Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli.
The residents of the fictional town of Two Mills, Pennsylvania, give Jeffrey Lionel Magee the nickname “Maniac” Magee — at first because he runs really, really fast. But then he also becomes the center of some pretty amazing changes in the divided town of Two Mills, so the nickname carries much more meaning than just a quick pair of feet.
As for other nicknames around town, Maniac gets to know local football star James “Hands” Down and bully “Mars Bar” Thompson. He also becomes friends with Amanda Beale, who carries a personal library of books in a suitcase at all times. (Amanda doesn’t have a nickname, but I always thought she should. How easy would it have been for Jerry Spinelli to just call her Amanda “Books” Beale? Oh, well.)
Pick up this book, and you’ll discover why Maniac runs everywhere, that he’s really good at untying knots, that he plays football as well as a high schooler, and lots more. He even somehow wins a lifetime supply of pizza (but he doesn’t like pizza. I know. Karen is shouting, “WHAT?!” right now).
Do you have a nickname, and do you love it or hate it? Can you think of other book characters with interesting nicknames?