Muggie Maggie by Beverly Cleary
Maggie is in school and her teacher says it’s going to be a good school day, but they’re learning to write cursive at school at Maggie doesn’t like it. She doesn’t like the idea of having to learn another way of writing and she doesn’t like having to repeatedly write something to learn the letters. Maggie tries a little, at first, but then starts drawing roller coasters.
Eventually, she tells her teacher that she doesn’t want to learn cursive. Her parents talk to her. The teacher talks to her. The principal talks to her. The school counselor talks to her.
Maggie tries to write her name in cursive, but doesn’t close her loops, so her name looks like Muggie and everyone starts to call her Muggie Maggie.
The teacher tells Maggie that she needs a messenger. Maggie cannot read the notes because she cannot read cursive. One day she recognizes her name in the notes going between teachers and decides she has to know what they say. She studies cursive on her own. One day she can read the notes. They’re about Maggie and her not learning cursive. The notes are passed back and forth, until Maggie can read cursive just fine.
What I liked
I have read this book before. It’s been a while, but I’ve read it. I’m glad that Maggie finally learned.
What I didn’t like
I’m ambivalent over this whole cursive thing. Yes, I learned cursive. Do kids today need to learn it? Um, well, I don’t know. I don’t have a strong opinion one way or the other. I know there are people who are all for it, but then there are people who think it’s a waste of time. I don’t even really use cursive except to sign my name. I don’t even write checks in cursive because of the handwriting recognition technology banks use to read checks these days. There is room for error when you’re writing cursive and not print in those instances. I don’t take notes in cursive; I take notes in print.
I’m glad I know this skill, but I don’t necessarily think it’s something that everyone needs.
I’m not entirely on-board with how Maggie was taught to read cursive. I think it’s a bit funny because the teachers had her going back and forth with notes about her. Sometimes kids are brats and they deserve a bit of a laugh at their expense. On the other hand, I don’t necessarily like this. I don’t like children to be frustrated for seemingly no reason. I’m glad Maggie learned her lesson, but I just don’t entirely feel ok with how she learned it.
Moving on, why was Maggie summoned to the principal and the counselor because she didn’t want to learn cursive? This is a non-big-deal. It’s not even something that should come across the radar of a principal or a counselor. I don’t like this for a couple of reasons.
Reason A) this is taking up valuable time from the principal and counselor. They have more important things to worry about such as the state of the school and whether or not a child could be being abused at home. They don’t need to take time out of their day to talk to a stubborn and willful child just because she doesn’t want to learn cursive.
Reason B) the idea that Maggie was called into offices for this silly thing seems like a tow-the-line attitude, as in, “Don’t rock the boat.” By this I mean, Maggie is meant to conform like everyone else. Newsflash–people aren’t all alike. Maybe Maggie doesn’t want to learn cursive and who the heck cares? She doesn’t have to be a “model citizen.”
This all stems from issues I have with public education. Children are different from one another, and thus, should not all be expected to learn exactly the same things, learn the same things in the same manner, or behave exactly alike.
Maybe I’m just in a bad mood.
I get why this is a book, but I’m not excited about it.
If your child got called into the principal’s office for something like this, how would you feel about it?
Do you think making Maggie deliver notes back and forth was effective and fair?