Maniac Magee

Maniac Magee

by Jerry Spinelli


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A Newbery Medal winning modern classic about a racially divided small town and a boy who runs.

Jeffrey Lionel "Maniac" Magee might have lived a normal life if a freak accident hadn't made him an orphan. After living with his unhappy and uptight aunt and uncle for eight years, he decides to run—and not just run away, but run. This is where the myth of Maniac Magee begins, as he changes the lives of a racially divided small town with his amazing and legendary feats.

Includes an introduction from Newbery Award-winning author of The One and Only Ivan, Katherine Applegate.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780606175609
Publisher: Turtleback Books
Publication date: 06/01/1999
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 1.25(h) x 9.00(d)
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

Jerry Spinelli is the author of over fifteen immensely popular books for young readers, including Eggs, Stargirl, Space Station Seventh Grade, Newbery Honor winner Wringer, and Maniac Magee, winner of more than fifteen state children's book awards in addition to the Newbery Medal. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife, Eileen. His website is

Read an Excerpt

Maniac Magee

By Jerry Spinelli


Copyright © 1990 Jerry Spinelli All right reserved.
ISBN: 0-316-80906-3

Chapter One

Maniac Magee was not born in a dump. He was born in a house, a pretty ordinary house, right across the river from here, in Bridgeport. And he had regular parents, a mother and a father.

But not for long.

One day his parents left him with a sitter and took the P & W high-speed trolley into the city. On the way back home, they were on board when the P & W had its famous crash, when the motorman was drunk and took the high trestle over the Schuylkill River at sixty miles an hour, and the whole caboodle took a swan dive into the water.

And just like that. Maniac was an orphan. He was three years old.

Of course, to be accurate, he wasn't really Maniac then. He was Jeffrey. Jeffrey Lionel Magee.

Little Jeffrey was shipped off to his nearest relatives, Aunt Dot and Uncle Dan. They lived in Hollidaysburg, in the western part of Pennsylvania.

Aunt Dot and Uncle Dan hated each other, but because they were strict Catholics, they wouldn't get a divorce. Around the time Jeffrey arrived, they stopped talking to each other. Then they stopped sharing.

Pretty soon there were two of everything in the house. Two bathrooms. Two TVs. Two refrigerators. Two toasters. If it were possible, they would have had two Jeffreys. As it was, they split him up as best they could. For instance,he would eat dinner with Aunt Dot on Monday, with Uncle Dan on Tuesday, and so on.

Eight years of that.

Then came the night of the spring musicale at Jeffrey's school. He was in the chorus. There was only one show, and one auditorium, so Aunt Dot and Uncle Dan were forced to share at least that much. Aunt Dot sat on one side. Uncle Dan on the other.

Jeffrey probably started screaming from the start of the song, which was "Talk to the Animals," but nobody knew it because he was drowned out by all the other voices. Then the music ended, and Jeffrey went right on screaming, his face bright red by now, his neck bulging. The music director faced the singers, frozen with his arms still raised. In the audience faces began to change. There was a quick smatter of giggling by some people who figured the screaming kid was some part of the show, some funny animal maybe. Then the giggling stopped, and eyes started to shift and heads started to turn, because now everybody could see that this wasn't part of the show at all, that little Jeffrey Magee wasn't supposed to be up there on the risers, pointing to his aunt and uncle, bellowing out from the midst of the chorus: "Talk! Talk, will ya! Talk! Talk! Talk!"

No one knew it then, but it was the birth scream of a legend.

And that's when the running started. Three springy steps down from the risers - girls in pastel dresses screaming, the music director lunging - a leap from the stage, out the side door and into the starry, sweet, onion-grass-smelling night.

Never again to return to the house of two toasters. Never again to return to school.


Excerpted from Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli Copyright © 1990 by Jerry Spinelli. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Maniac Magee 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 357 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jeffrey Lionel Magee (Maniac Magee) is a homeless boy who's parents died in a horrible crash, when he was very young. He lives with his aunt and uncle for a while, but unexpectedly runs away to Two Mills. In Two Mills there are two separate parts of town, the east end and the west end. The first couple of weeks there, he lives in the deer pen, but when a girl named Amanda Beale finds out he has no place to go, she offers to let him stay with her family. He runs away from her too, because he doesn't feel like he belongs living with an African American family.A bully named Mars Bar doesn't like the idea of a white boy running around town.When Mars Bar acually gets to meet him, they become friends. Later that day Maniac and Mars are at the zoo, just looking at animals, when suddenly Amanda Beale comes, and tells Maniac he's living with her. When Amanda doesn't take "no" for an answer, Maniac knows her has a real friend and a real home. I give this book four stars. It made me always want to keep reading Though at times it could get pretty confusing. I like the weord choice and how the author really expressed the characters feelings. I also like how the chapters are short, so it keeps you in suspense.
Balina More than 1 year ago
That was great. I enjoyed every minute reading this.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A wonderful book to use in an upper elementary classroom. It covers great issues of defining family, overcoming loss, friendship, and prejudice all with great figurative language and humor.
PandaLuver4ever More than 1 year ago
Jeffery Magee a.k.a Maniac Magee's life is full of up's and down's. he can't find a true family. His aunt Dot and uncle Dan aren't a help to beggin with so he runs. He ends up with the beale's and is at ome there but there is one huge problem. There black and he is white and that is something that doesn;t work for anyone. So Maniac runs again. This time he ends up in the Buffalo pen, where Grayson the zoo attendent works. Grayson takes Maniac to a baseball equipment room where they live until a couple days after Christmas Grayson dies. Maniac is soon on the run again. He lives many places after that and finally ends up witht he Beale's again. That ends up to be his true home. Maniac runs from his problems and it creates a heart warming story. I recomend this book for anyone no matter what age.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Couldn't put this book down and didn't want it to end. It was such fun to read! It was a terrific story filled with imagination and a great lesson on life. I was thrilled with Mr Spinelli's use of words. His descriptions were like nothing I have ever read before. They made me want to call someone up and read to them. I strongly recommend this book to readers of any age. I am considerably older than the age group the author may have had in mind. Yet, I related to the characters as much as anyone would.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Maniac Magee Maniac Magee is a fiction book. If you enjoy adventure books such as Maniac Magee written by Jerry Spinally, then this is the book for you. It is not a predictable book; you do not know what's coming at you as you rapidly move through the book. Jeffery Magee is his real name, but he is the ultimate legend of the town Two-Mills so they named him Maniac Magee. Maniac Magee was born in Hollidaysburg, PA. Maniac is a little Caucasian boy whose parents died in a trolley accident. The driver of the trolley was drunk and it was his shift to drive that night. The trolley crashed and fell into the river down below and every single person died. Two of the people on the trolley happened to be Maniac's parents. He was taken in by his Aunt Dot and Uncle Dan, who absolutely hate each other, but they are strict Catholics, and it's against Catholics to get a divorce. So they dealt with each other. After living with his aunt and uncle he decided to run away; he couldn't stand to be shared between to adults. So he decided to run away to Two-Mills were he became the legend of all legends. When he arrived in Two-Mills he met a little black girl about the same age as Maniac, Amanda Beale. She became Maniac's best friend. When she found out that he had no place to live she offered to give up her room for him to sleep. She moved into her brother and sister's room, Hester and Lester. They fell in love with Maniac at first sight. He was like their older brother. He also took care of most of the house work. Mrs. Beale didn't know what to do with herself; she had no housework to do. A couple of punks in the neighborhood scared Maniac right out. During this time period that this story takes place there are two different sides of Two Mills, the West End which is made for the black people and the East which is where the white people were. If you were black or white you stayed in your end no white ever went into the West End and no black ever went into the East End, that's just how it was. So when Maniac met Amanda he was the only white in the West End. That was when the punks scared him away. He ran away to the baseball equipment room, were he made a new friend named Grayson. He fed him, gave him clothes, and whatever he needed. After a couple of months he died, and Maniac had no one. John McNab was the baseball legend of Two-Mills until Maniac arrived. He was the pitcher of all pitchers in the baseball little league. Baseball legend Maniac was the only person ever to hit McNab's fastball. This book was about the importance of friends, and sadness. This book showed me that there is no need in the separation of blacks and whites. Maniac had friends that were black and white. He didn't understand why they didn't like each other. This book was one of my favorite books that I have ever read. It is really exciting. There are a lot of metaphors that make it even more interesting. I give this book four stars. Although it was a little confusing to follow. I would recommend this book to all ages.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A kid named Jeffery Magee is only three years old when his parents die in a trolley incident. Jeffrey is now sent to his aunt and uncle’s house and stays there for eight years until he runs away. He ends up in Two Mills, Pennsylvania. The day he went there many people had seen him. He did many extraordinary things that day, so everyone in the city knew about him. He got named Maniac Magee. He then stays at Amanda’s house and everybody liked him. Since he is good at untying knots, he competes in a knot contest and wins. He then has to leave Amanda’s house because the neighbors didn’t like him. After that he meets a man named Grayson and has a good time with him. But Grayson dies shortly after Christmas. After that he stays in different places in the city. I really liked Maniac Magee but did not like it for one reason. I liked it because the book was interesting and suspenseful on what Jeffrey is going to do next. Whenever I was at the end of a page I felt like going to the next page. I didn’t like Maniac Magee only because at times the book was confusing. I couldn’t understand what point the author was trying to make. For example, towards the end of the book Jeffrey is talking to Mars Bar, a friend of Jeffrey, and then Jeffrey is talking to Amanda Beale. Overall I thought that Maniac Magee
SJKessel More than 1 year ago
Spinelli, J. (1990). Maniac Magee. New York: Little, Brown and Company. 0316809063 As an orphan, Jeffrey Magee is sent to live with his aunt and uncle who live separately within their house and refuse to share anything. At the age of eleven, Jeffrey, unable to deal with his aunt and uncle's refusal to interact or communicate, runs away. A year later, he appears in a strictly racially segregated town, doing amazing feats and running like a mad man, earning him the nickname, Maniac. Quick to make both friends and enemies, Maniac searches for a home. This Newbery Winning story, without a clear setting in time, deals extensively with issues of race and segregation. Maniac, who is initially completely naïve of issues of race, seems almost too naïve. What is more, the fact that no character ever reports Magee's homelessness to the authorities may make this classic story difficult to accept for some adults. Also present in the book are issues of literacy. Despite his refusal to go to school, Maniac loves to read. He also takes on the role of teacher, helping an older man he befriends learn to read. In the past, the presence of this book in schools and libraries has been challenged in some communities for the fact that it could encourage children to run away or quite school. The beginning of the story, intrigued me most. Spinelli's narrator takes on the voice similar to that of a folklorist, examining the legend, the myth, the boy that is Maniac Magee. Activities to do with the book: This is a good book to discuss topics of race, segregation, school truancy, homelessness and loss. This is also a good way to introduce the idea of 'whiteness.' To help students visualize the text, they could create maps of Two Mills, reinforcing the division between the sides of the town. Students could then create a second map, trying to unify the town. Other techniques used with the text include making Venn diagrams, comparing and contrasting characters that have parallel positions. Also, students could examine the characterization of Maniac as a transgressor. Favorite Quotes "The history of a kid is one part fact, two parts legend, and three parts snowball. And if you want to know what it was like back when Maniac Magee roamed these parts, well, just run your hand under your movie seat and be very, very careful not to let the facts get mixed up with the truth" (p. 2). "If you listen to everybody who claims to have seen Jeffrey-Maniac Magee that first day, there must have been ten thousand people and a parade of fire trucks waiting for him at the town limits. Don't believe it. A couple of people truly remember, and here's what they saw: a scraggly little kid jogging toward them, the soles of both sneakers hanging by their hinges and flopping open like dog tongues each time the came up from the pavement" (p. 9). "For the life of him, he couldn't figure why these East Enders called themselves black. He kept looking and looking, and the colors he found were gingersnap and light fudge and dark fudge and acorn and butter rum and cinnamon and burnt orange. But never licorice, which, to him, was real black" (p. 51). For more of my reviews, visit
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book Maniac Magee was about an orphan that ran away. Magee ran to the western end. Magee was sleeping in a stable. The stable he slept in was in the backyard of the girl’s house he met in front of her school the day that he ran away.the girl Like to read and do math at school. The way he mat the girl in front of her school. Was that he ran into her in front of the school. At the story end of the story he end up moving in with the girl he ran into. That he met this kid that told him about this person in this neighborhood and he hated kids. He saw some people that were building this little kid and and pick him over the face of the person who hated kids. He also want to a party. I thought that the book was a pretty good but it had a lot stoff going on in it so it was hard to keep track of what was happening i it. I would give it a 4 out of five stars. it was pretty good book. But the book was pretty long book but it had a good ending for a book about a orthen that ran away.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I remember reading this in fifth grade, my friend and I we're really tired of the teacher stoping every other page to throw in some detail or give us four work sheets on the two pages we just read. So we read ahead four or five pages, to the part where *SPOILER ALERT* Grayson dies. Well, if any of you have been in school lately, you know how teachers are..... they can pull seven worksheets from half a page. When she and I read ahead we where expecting for her to catch up to us in that class period. But no. So for the next, I am NOT KIDDING, week and a half me and my friend are so jumpy the whole class. Because we, for whatever reason, everytime she said Grayson's name would look up at each other and sorta get this weird "Oh they have know idea what we are thinking and we feel so smart just because." look on our faces and giggle. So this goes on for like, a week. And that is just to prove how seriously intensely good this book is. (And it is also partly to tell teachers, reading ones in particular that there are WAY TO MANY WORKSHEETS.) And that I learned nothing from that lesson on run on sentences.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This_Kid_Reviews_Books More than 1 year ago
Jeffrey Magee hated living with his aunt and uncle who hated each other, but he had no choice because his parents died in a trolley accident and he was an orphan. After putting up with his aunt and uncle for years, Jeffrey finally snaps and runs… and runs… and runs. He runs away and keeps running. He ends up in Two Mills, Pennsylvania. Jeffrey soon gets a reputation of being that “Maniac” kid because he is so fast no one can beat him and he is an expert at all kinds of sports. Jeffrey is homeless and wants more than anything to have a home and a family. He meets a girl, Amanda Beale and they become friends. The Beales know that Jeffrey doesn’t have a home and they asks him to come and stay with their family. Jeffrey is happy with the Beales and they like having him as part of their family but not everyone in this part of Two Mills was happy Jeffrey was there. You see, Jeffrey is white and the Beales are black and the East side of Two Mills is where black people live. Jeffrey didn’t understand why someone would not like him just because he was not black. The Beales didn’t care and they treated Jeffrey like their own family, but some of the East-siders chase him away. Maniac continues to run from place to place in and out of Two Mills trying to find a place to call home and a family of his own. Will he ever realize where his true home is? This is a moving book about racism. It teaches that racism is something taught. Jeffrey didn’t think about the different colors of people. He never knew that white and black people could not like each other because of the way they looked. I really love how Mr. Spinelli has Jeffrey describes black people’s skin; “he couldn’t figure why these East Enders called themselves black. He kept looking and looking, and the colors he found were gingersnap and light fudge and dark fudge and acorn and butter rum and cinnamon and burnt orange. But never licorice, which, to him, was real black.” Mr. Spinelli mixed the right amount of humor with an awesome story that not only kept me reading but also gave an important message about a tough subject. I loved reading about the feats that Maniac did in the book (the scene where he hits an in-the-park home run with a frog as the ball is hysterical…Oh and the frog was not hurt). I like how he was a good big brother to the Beale’s kids. This is just an awesome book! I can see why this book won the 1991 Newbery Medal! **NOTE I reviewed my own copy of this book
The_hibernators More than 1 year ago
When homeless runaway Jeffrey “Maniac” Magee arrives in the highly segregated town of Two Mills he meets Amanda Bealle, an African American girl who shares his love of reading. Soon, Maniac Magee moves in with the Bealles, enraging racial tensions among their African American neighbors. He ends up sleeping on the streets, or sometimes with other down-and-outs, all the while amazing everyone with his friendly nature, athletic feats, and complete color-blindness. Maniac Magee’s story is engaging not only because of the positive social theme, but also because of the delightful prose and wonderful characters. A wonderful book for kids around the age of 9-12, I’d say
MissPrint More than 1 year ago
They say Maniac Magee was born in a dump. They say his stomach was a cereal box and his heart a sofa spring. They say he kept an eight-inch cockroach on a leash and that rats stood guard over him while he slept. They say if you knew he was coming and you sprinkled salt on the ground and he ran over it, within two or three blocks he would be as slow as everybody else. They say. But before anyone said any of those things, Jeffrey Magee was just a normal boy. At least he was until he was orphaned and ran away to Two Mills a year after. No one knows why it took him a year to get to Two Mills. No one knows where the truth ends and the myth begins. This is what we do know: Finsterwald is gone now but kids will never sit on those front steps. Two Mills still has a Little League and a band shell. Cobble's Corner is still at the corner of Hector and Birch and the man behind the counter still has the clump of string. And grade school girls still sing about Jeffrey Magee, though they might not know him by that name. If you want to know about Maniac, just run your hand under your movie seat and be very, very careful not to let the facts get mixed up with the truth in Maniac Magee (1990) by Jerry Spinelli. Maniac Magee was the 1991 Newbery winner and recently selected as number 17 in Betsy Bird's 100 Greatest Children's books poll over at her blog A Fuse #8 Production. It is also a surprisingly rich story given its 184 pages (paperback edition). Part legend, part tall tale, Spinelli spins a yarn here about an ordinary boy who, through his own ingenuity and maybe a bit of luck, does extraordinary things--things that have the power to change the lives of those around him. But at its core, Maniac Magee is a story about a boy looking for a place to call home and a family of his own. Spinelli skillfully captures the wonder of youth in his writing here. Maniac Magee is a wonderful, fun story that is more than ready for a book discussion. Possible Pairings: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose, You Don't Know Me by David Klass, Holes by Louis Sachar, The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
xXsweetperfectionXx More than 1 year ago
This was A GREAT BOOK! This book is awesome. Read it, then read it again.
Christina-Burns87 More than 1 year ago
The story of Maniac Magee is an adventure tale, that leads to great friends and understanding. Jeffery Magee aka Maniac Magee is orphaned after both his parents were killed during a trolley accident. So Jeffrey is sent to live with his relatives, but soon runs away because they are constantly fighting. On his own, Jeffrey is looking for a new home and soon finds himself in the small town of Two Mills which is a segregated town. Jeffrey soon finds himself the target of harassment by the best pitcher on the whites only little league team. Jeffrey is chased unto the black's side of town were he meets Amanda Beale, a young black girl that befriends Magee and ultimately defends Magee. In the East end of town Magee also is becoming unpopular. Basically a turf war breaks out but Maniac Magee helps to bridge the gap. However Magee doesn't want to cause more problems to see leaves the town again in search of a new family. There is more to his adventure but you must read the book to find out what more is in store for Jeffrey "Maniac" Magee. Teachers, this story is great for a multicultural classroom. It will teach the children about segregation, also brings up the topic of orphans and friendship.
emma-bear_ More than 1 year ago
Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli, was one of Mr. Spinelli's first novels, and I knew that I have wanted to read it for a while, after loving books such as Stargirl, Love Stargirl, and Wringer. This book however, was not as good as those. I found the story good, and intruiging, but very hard to follow, and missing details often in the story. If I hadn't liked the ending as much as I did, I would have given this two stars. This book is alright, but I have read other ones that are better by the same author.
BasketballGW More than 1 year ago
maniac magee is a good book even though the main character gr ayson dies. I very much rcamend this book to one and all in the world.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This story is about a boy named Jeffery Lionel Magee. His parents died so he had to live with his aunt Dot and uncle Dan. He gets chased to the other side of town by John McNab. He gets chased because he is the only one that is not striked out by his pitches. Then he lives with this girl named Amanda Beale. He gets picked on by this boy named Mars Bar, so he goes back to the west end. Then he lives with this old man named Mr.Grayson. But he soon dies, and in the end, he moves back with Amanda Beale. I would say this book is "all right". I would give it a rating of three stars because some of the characters just don't fit into the topic of the book. But many parts are good so I would reccommend reading this book if you like books with lots of suspense. It is also good for people who like books about out of the ordinary people. It also has some confusing parts during the book, so in that way, I would not recommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jeffery Lionel "Maniac" Magee's parents pass away. While staying at his aunt and uncle's house, he decides to run away. When he runs away, he meets a girl named Amanda Beale. Amanda brings him to her house and her parents ask where he lives and he said nowhere. They decide to let him stay with them. He runs away again and lives in a baseball shed where he meets a person who used to be a baseball player in the minors. His name is Grayson. Grayson moves in with Maniac and they celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas. After Christmas, Grayson dies. Maniac decides to run away again with food and meets two kids that also ran away. They are two boys and they go back to the two boy's house. Maniac realizes that the two kids are relatives to a bully that he knew. The bullies name is Jon McNabb and Maniac was hitting baseballs when Jon and Maniac hit a home run and Maniac never missed. So Jon is bulling Maniac and the two kids say "how do you know Maniac?" Maniac interrupts Jon and lies" Jon struck me out a lot when we played baseball." After Maniac lied, Jon and Maniac became friends and Maniac stayed at Jon's house. I liked this book because Maniac feels that he can do anything. He meets a girl named Amanda and lives at her house for some of the time. I give this book a 5 out of 5 stars
Cougar_H More than 1 year ago
In the book maniac magee theres a kid who gets, made fun of pick on and laft at because of what he dosn"t have "parents".how? some one would ask. well they left for a vaation and thay were looking around when the were on there way to were ever the were going. they sterde off the rode and went into a ditch then into a river and dround. so now from wat has happend he is bullyd, laft at,and mest with because of wat he doesnt have. would you bully someone because of wat they dont have? can you put your self in his shows in his situation how would u feel.
4AMomma More than 1 year ago
My son recommended this book for my college class (I needed one on racial issues). I loved it. I saw myself in many aspects of it, both as a child and now as an adult. It was easy to read, funny in parts, and very true to life in many ways. Children ages 10 and up could read this book, it might help them deal with some of the issues of peer pressure which are just beginning to appear. It also has many 'survival tips' which they would probably like. Parents could definitely learn from this book. It shows how we are viewed from a child's eyes, both good and bad. It makes it very plain to see the effect of what we say and do, upon others. It gives us the opportunity to step back and choose what kind of person we want to be.
IncognitoBurrito More than 1 year ago
Jerry Spinelli is such a good author. Period.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I like the book Maniac Magee because it is irresistable to read. It is irresistable to read because it is unpredictable and you just want to read it page after page. The main character is Jeffrey Magee. Some supprorting characters are Amanda, Mars Bar/Snickers, Grayson, and plenty more to come if you read the book. You need to read the book to see what happened to Maniac's parents. If your wondering where Jeffrey Magee lives it is anywhere he can find and have shelter. This is a fiction book. This would be a great book for children and adults who like action and adventure.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Manaic Magee. At first, just Jeffrey, but, due to several tragic events in his life, he ran away to a place known as Two Mills. Trying desperately to find a home, Jeffrey soon discovers that the people if Two Mills are divided by the color of their skin. Over the course of the story, Jeffrey performs daring feats and becomes a legend among the people of the town. After receiving fame, Jeffrey still dosen't give up on his quest to find a home. Along the way, he asks himself "Why are they divided?" Will the question be answered? It's best to find out for yourself. This book was very good, but it did have a few flaws. In the story, Jeffrey is allergic to pizza, but they don't specify what part he's allergic to. It also dosen't tell what year the book takes place in. Plus, it's a little unbelievable that the buffalos didn't mind him. Though on the bright side, the book had a great introduction, as well as a satisfying ending. I would recommend this book for all ages. As a picky reader, I would give this book 4.8 out of 5 stars. Hail Krumpits!