A Review I Wrote In 2002

This review of Beverly Cleary’s “Muggie Maggie” was originally posted on amazon.com.

This book, while well-written, does not quite come up to the quality of many of Beverly Cleary’s other works, for example, the Henry Huggins books, the Ramona series, Ellen Tebbits, Otis Spofford, and Emily’s Runaway Imagination.
The main character, Maggie, is a third-grade girl who rebels against learning to write cursive, partly because she doesn’t like the way it looks.
Of course, her refusal causes great concern among the adults in Maggie’s life. Maggie even has to see the principal and the school psychologist.
Things seem to be at an impasse, and then Maggie’s teacher, Mrs. Leeper, comes up with a clever way of motivating Maggie to learn cursive…
she makes her the note monitor, and leaves the notes unsealed, knowing that Maggie will peek at them. These notes were, for the most part, amusing. One of them, however, brought back some very painful childhood memories.
“Maggie is now reading cursive. I saw her reading what I had written on the chalkboard. If she can read it, she can write it.”
Now, while this was true in Maggie’s case, and would be true for many others, there are also those who can read it, but, for some reason or other, cannot write cursive, and sometimes have difficulty with printing as well.
I’m one of these people. I was reading several years above my grade level, but my handwriting was terrible, due, in my case, to a perceptual-motor disablity which wasn’t diagnosed until just before I entered the sixth grade. I was often scolded and shamed in front of my classmates:
“There is no excuse for someone who reads as well as you do to have such poor handwriting. You’re just not trying. Shame on you!”
Kudos to Mrs. Leeper for NOT shaming Maggie in front of her classmates. And kudos to Beverly Cleary for having some adults in the book with less than perfect penmanship. Finally, kudos to Beverly Cleary for creating a new character for this book. I doubt that it would have worked as part of the Ramona series.
I’ve given this book three stars, not because of my childhood memories, but because, as I said at the beginning of this review, while well-written, it does not quite come up to the quality of many of Beverly Cleary’s other works


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