Decades later, Maniac Magee is a beloved modern classic and a fixture on school reading lists. Jerry Spinelli tossed out two early attempts at Maniac Magee before landing on the version that stuck. Spinelli’s fifth novel, 1988’s Dump Days, includes a blink-and-you-miss-it, one-sentence reference to Maniac Magee, describing him as “an orphan sort of kid, who sleeps at the bandshell.”4. According to Jerry Spinelli, the South African government bought several hundred copies of Maniac Magee to promote anti-Apartheid efforts. In 1993, Elijah Wood, who was 12 years old at the time, expressed interest in playing Maniac Magee in a big-screen adaptation.