Thursday, April 17, 2008

P-r-o-c-r-a-s-t-i-n-a-t-i-o-n! Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Stuart Little by Peggy Gifford

It's crunch time for Moxy Maxwell. It's August 23, the last day of summer vacation, and she hasn't even started reading Stuart Little, the summer reading assignment, and Mr. Flamingo, her new fourth grade teacher, is giving a quiz on it on the first day--tomorrow. What's more, tonight is the "Goodbye to Summer Splash," and Moxy is the eighth daisy petal in the water ballet. Now Mom has gone off to do afternoon errands, leaving written orders: If Stuart Little isn't read by five o'clock, no performance, no sparklers, no delicious daisy cake at the after-show party.

Now Moxy loves reading; she just doesn't like being told what to read. Not that she hasn't tried to spend time with the famous mouse-child. Moxy has taken the book everywhere she went all summer. It's fallen into the pool during rehearsal, baked in the sun inside the car, been doused with lemonade on the porch swing, and attacked by a jillion ants soon thereafter. Moxy has figured that she'd read it when she had some "in-between time," time after she's done with one activity and it's not time for another yet. But for Moxy there's always something to do in-between, and now it's crunch time.

Moxy means to read Stuart, but a full-blown case of procrastination frenzy sets in. Moxy realizes she hasn't really cleaned her room all summer, and she can't settle down to read in such a mess. With all her stuff shoved under the bed, she suddenly feels the need of a snack and a bit of fresh air. After all, Stuart Little does have 144 pages. Heading for the hammock outside, she grabs a fresh peach for sustenance, and then another. Her little sister Pansy and neighbor Sam eat a few with her for moral support.

Suddenly Moxy has an idea so stupendous that even she is flabbergasted. A peach orchard! It could pay for her whole college education (and dental school, if that's the Career Path she chooses)! And she already has a lot of peach seeds at hand, or at least in Pansy's and Sam's hands. She has plenty of backyard to plant them in, and her mom has left a water hose conveniently nearby in her famous, fabulous dahlia garden. Briskly ordering Sam and Pansy from her command post in the hammock, she barks out directions confidently. It all makes such good sense. Even her mom is going to realize that a girl who can pay her own college expenses doesn't need to read a silly book about a mouse!

The Peach Orchard Plan accomplished, Moxy decides it's time to look for her actual copy of Stuart Little--just as her mother returns to find her dahlias flooded and currently being excavated by Moxy's dog Mudd. Questions ensue, and blame is established.

"I am going to let you do your daisy routine tonight," said Mrs. Maxwell, "but do you know why?" It was the sort of question that wasn't asking for an answer, so Moxy was silent. "Because if you don't you will let the other seven petals down. It wouldn't be fair to them."

Moxy could not believe her luck.

"But I am not going to allow you to go to the party after the show. And do you know why?"

Moxy had a feeling she did.

At last it's down to the moment of truth. The water ballet is over, and Moxy is back in her room. She picks up the book and looks at the cover. Stuart actually is a pretty cute mouse. Then she really looks at Stuart's little red sports car.

What had she been thinking? Why ever did I spend the whole summer avoiding a ride in this little car with the fabulous fenders? was the last thing she said to herself before Stuart Little hit the accelerator and the two of them sped off.

Illustrated by black and white photos, purportedly taken by Moxy's brother Mark during the Summer of Procrastination, Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Stuart Little is honest and funny and not at all off-putting, even for the Moxeys of the world. A new Moxy Maxwell adventure, Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Writing Thank-you Notes is forthcoming in August.

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  • I read this book last Friday. I loved it. Chapter 7 is my favorite.

    By Blogger Kyle, at 9:05 AM  

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