Muggie Maggie, by Beverly Cleary. Published in 1991, by HarperCollins.
I actually forgot that we read this book before Christmastime, which I think says a lot about the book itself. We were waiting for the next Henry Huggins books, so we decided to read this one-book Beverly Cleary, which we already had in our library. It was forgettable.
Now, I have really enjoyed Beverly Cleary. Our family has been enjoying her at bedtime for months. We really enjoyed Ramona Quimby, and are moderately enjoying Henry Huggins. We were let down, then, when we read through this book in a couple nights.
First, it’s just too short. Cleary’s allure, as a writer, is her “normal,” nostalgic characters. Less so are her plot lines, which usually cover plenty of “normal” days in the lives of her characters. With such a slim, singular volume, we don’t become invested enough in Maggie to want to follow her through her normal adventures.
We also found the plot to be a little weird. Why Maggie chooses cursive to mutiny about left my kids feeling distanced from the writing. Perhaps its because they are Montessori kids and learned cursive in kindergarten? Even so, many children are not learning cursive at all these days. So the plot has become a bit irrelevant, or just, as I said, a little weird. Perhaps a secondary plot line about something deeper would give some sort of backstory as to why Maggie is mutinying now?
Plus, the title should have just been Muggie.
I wouldn’t really discourage anyone from reading Muggie Maggie. As always, the writing is clear and un-distracting, the setting clean and refreshing, and the situations entertaining. However, I would tell you that you are much better to read the Ramona series, the Henry series, or probably some of her other books (which we have not read yet, like The Mouse and the Motorcycle or Dear Mr. Henshaw). In the end, you could fill your arms with great Cleary books, and just leave Muggie Maggie at the bookstore.