"Muggie Maggie" by Beverly Cleary, Chapters 4–8

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 had grown bored with not writing cursive, but by now the whole third grade was interested in her revolt. Each day, they watched to see whether she gave in.
While Kirby—a boy who always did what he was told, more or less—gripped his pencil, pressing down so hard he broke the point and had to go to the pencil sharpener, and Courtney and Kelly wrote with pencils whispering daintily across their papers, Maggie wrote her name the way her father wrote his...
Maggie, pleased with her work, folded the letter, sealed it in an envelope, printed Ms. Madden on the front, and slipped it into her father’s briefcase, with the virtuous feeling of having done what was expected of her.
The note, as she had expected, was from Ms. Madden and was neatly typed, except for one consonant.
“Ms. Madden is a secretary who is always neat and accurate.”
“Good for you, Goldilocks,” said her father, and he rumpled her hair.
Maggie lost no time in escaping to the freedom of the hall, where no one supervised her.
The envelope grew shabby.
“How come you’re delivering so many messages?” asked Kirby.
“Because she can’t read cursive,” said Courtney.
“And Mrs. Leeper knows she can’t snoop,” said Kelly.
On her way to the first-grade room, Maggie discovered that all of Mrs. Leeper’s notes looked exactly alike, which was funny peculiar, not funny ha-ha.
The class tittered. Maggie wondered whether the boys called their teacher’s beard a cootie motel.
Maggie, desperate to read, discovered this teacher was careless about joining letters.
With Kisser’s nose resting on her foot and some old work papers in front of her, she frantically practiced cursive, including the difficult capitals...
“What are you doing, Maggie?” asked her mother through the door.
“Nothing,” answered Maggie, aware that her mother felt children were entitled to privacy and would not open the door.
When she had finished, Maggie’s face was flushed, her hair more tousled than usual, but she could write cursive.
“Daddy, listen to me,” she said, and her voice was stern.
“Then you should learn to close your loops and put the right number of peaks on your u's and write neatly,” said Maggie.
“Everyone says my handwriting is distinguished.”
“Well, it’s wrong,” she said, and she sighed so hard that Kisser looked anxious.
Grown-ups were so hard to reform—maybe impossible.
Maggie wanted to crumple the note, but if she did that, Mrs. Leeper would want to know why Mr. Galloway had not sent a reply.
She returned the note to its tattered envelope, dragged her feet into the principal’s office, and thrust it at him.
What normal third grader wouldn’t want to know what the principal had to say in time of crisis?
First of all, Maggie was astonished that Mr. Galloway would call a teacher by her first name.
Maggie dreaded returning to her classroom. She plodded along, trying to figure out how she could avoid it.

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