"Muggie Maggie" by Beverly Cleary, Chapters 1–3

May 23, 2023
Third-grader Maggie Schultz decides she does not want to learn how to read and write cursive.

Here are links to our lists for the novel: Chapters 1–3, Chapters 4–8
Maggie was happy to escape from sixth-grade boys who called her a cootie and from fourth-grade boys who insisted the third grade was awful, cursive writing hard, and Mrs. Leeper, the teacher, mean.
He was a young, eager dog the Schultzes had chosen from the S.P.C.A.’s Pick-a-Pet page in the newspaper.
Maggie ran home with her fair hair flying and her dog springing along beside her.
Mrs. Schultz smiled as she closed the refrigerator, but Maggie was doubtful about a teacher who forecast happiness. How did she know?
Mr. Schultz tousled Maggie’s hair and went to change into his jogging clothes.
“We start cursive this week,” she said with a gusty sigh that was supposed to impress her parents with the hard work that lay ahead.
Instead, they laughed. Maggie was annoyed. Cursive was serious.
Maggie scowled, still hurting from being laughed at, and said, “Cursive is dumb. It’s all wrinkled and stuck together, and I can’t see why I am supposed to do it.”
“I’m sure you’ll enjoy cursive once you start,” said Mrs. Schultz in that brisk, positive way that always made Maggie feel contrary.
“I’m not going to write cursive, and nobody can make me. So there.”
“Ho-ho,” said her mother so cheerfully
 that Maggie felt three times as contrary.
“Down, Kisser, you old nuisance.”
“Books are not written in cursive,” Maggie pointed out. “I can read chapter books, and not everyone in my class is good at that.”
Mr. Schultz sipped his coffee. “True,” he admitted, “but many things are written in cursive. Memos, many letters, grocery lists, checks, lots of things.”
“We are going to learn cursive handwriting. We are going to learn to make our letters flow together.” Mrs. Leeper made flow sound like a long, long word as she waved her hand in a graceful flowing motion.
She calls that exciting, thought Maggie, slumping in her chair.
“Down, Kisser!” Mrs. Schultz sounded cross.
“Mrs. Leeper said you are a reluctant cursive writer who has not reached cursive-writing readiness, and perhaps you are too immature to write it.”
“Mrs. Leeper said you are a reluctant cursive writer who has not reached cursive-writing readiness, and perhaps you are too immature to write it.”
Maggie was indignant. “I am not!” she said. “I am Gifted and Talented.”
For several days, just for fun, Maggie drew fancy letters at cursive time, and then Mrs. Leeper told her that Mr. Galloway, the principal, wanted to see her in his office.
On her way, Maggie, filled with dread, dawdled as long as she felt she could get away with it.
That evening, Mrs. Leeper telephoned Maggie’s mother to say that the principal had reported Maggie was not motivated to write cursive. “That means you don’t want to,” Mrs. Schultz explained to Maggie.
“No more computer for you. You stay strictly away from it.”
She looked worried, Mr. Schultz looked grim, and Maggie was frightened.
She had learned to be suspicious of letters from school.

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