Locus Focus: First Post!
Welcome to the very first Locus Focus linkup! =D
We all know of books that make their settings come alive, and this meme is a chance to write about them and share them with others. This week, I am rereading a childhood favourite with my younger brothers (who need to read it for school) and finding myself wishing that I could step into the world being described in the pages.
by Jerry Spinelli
Grade school girls in Two Mills still jump rope and chant:
Ma-niac, Ma-niac/ He's so cool
Ma-niac, Ma-niac/ Don't go to school
Runs all night/ Runs all right
Ma-niac, Ma-niac/ Kissed a bull!
And sometimes the girl holding one end of the rope is from the West side of Hector, and the girl from the other end is from the East side; and if you're looking for Maniac Magee's legacy, or monument, that's as good as any . . .
Two Mills, Pennsylvania may be a fictional town, but I feel as if I could hop on a plane tomorrow, land in Philadelphia, and try to get from there to the land of Jeffrey "Maniac" Magee, his friends, and his family. I'd take a ride into town on the P&W trolley. Then I'd walk along Hector Street looking for Cobble's Corner, so I could ask to look at the string that was once Cobble's Knot and maybe order a pizza. I know I'd like to sit on the front steps of the house at 803 Oriole Street and try to hear Mrs. Pickwell's lunch whistle from there. And I'd love to sneak into the Elmwood Park band stand, looking for the door on which Maniac once painted a number--an address--only to paint over it again. Maybe I'd even buy a package of butterscotch Krimpets to munch while I take it all in.
Jerry Spinelli writes with a real sense of urban geography--which totally suits this novel about a boy who is a walking urban legend. Indeed, there is something mythical about someone who is at home in both the West End, the white part of town, and the East End, the black part of town. Yet perhaps this is because, for the greater part of the novel, Jeffrey Magee doesn't have a real home.
My brothers and I are a few chapters away from the end, so I asked them to name all the places where Maniac has lived. They mentioned the house of a nice family on the East End and a not-so-nice family on the West End--but those are just the houses. Maniac has slept in the park, in zoo pens, in a baseball equipment room, in unsuspecting people's backyards and kitchens, and in a replica of a revolutionary war cabin in Valley Forge. And when he jokes about finding a nice prairie dog town that will take him, it is clear that all he really wants is a place to belong.
The most poignant thing about Spinelli's storytelling is that he very sparingly uses the "homeless" to describe his young hero; he just writes of places that could almost be homes, of people who could almost be family and animals who could almost be pets, and we understand completely. We don't need to be hit over the head with such a politicised term. And we cheer at the end when he finally finds a place to call home. (That word never grows old!)
Leave the link to your Locus Focus post in the linky
and take some time to check out and comment on those of others.
I can't wait to read what everyone has to say! =D
EDIT: I can put up only one linky at a time, so I am saving these precious links in the post itself. Here are the participants of the first ever Locus Focus Saturday:
The Book Mole (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's 221B Baker Street)
Spike Is Best ( Thomas Hardy's Egdon Heath)
Pearls Cast Before a McPig (H.P. Lovecraft's R'lyeh)
The Introverted Reader (Louisa Maud Montgomery's Prince Edward Island)
Random Ramblings (Frances Hodgson Burnett's India and Misselthwaite Manor)
Breaking the Curve (J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth)