the best friends you’ll never have

If there’s one thing that the fandom seems to 100% agree on, it’s that Jessi’s handwriting is too damn hard to read. Many cheerfully admit that they skip the sections where she has handwritten something, or even say that they can’t read cursive at all. (I have actually had people my age–28–tell me to rewrite something in print so that they can read it.)

Now, cursive, and whether it’s worth teaching kids how to do it, with the ubiquity of computers and all, is a hot-button issue. Personally, I am glad that laptops in the classroom only really became a thing after I finished college, because the clackety-clack of 20 or so keyboards going simultaneously would have driven me crazy, plus it’s easier to think with a pen in your hand. Anyway, that is not what I’m writing about today. Back to Jessi and her poor, maligned handwriting.

My rereading of My Own Two Feet that I mentioned last week also resulted in several Wikipedia/Google k-holes about common handwriting systems in the United States. Beverly Cleary, having gone to school in the ’20s and ’30s, learned the Palmer Method. When you look up the Palmer Method, it looks a lot like Jessi’s writing.


Apparently Oakley was just very behind the times in their writing program, because by the ’50s, the Palmer method was on the way out, to be replaced by Zaner-Bloser, which is what I learned, and which has more in common with Mary Anne’s writing than Jessi’s.

Now, of course, if kids do learn cursive today, they learn D’Nealian, which is stupid and ugly. But let’s stop insulting Jessi’s handwriting. It is a part of American cultural heritage! And I have never understood the whole “hard-to-read” thing, anyway. Jessi’s handwriting 4 lyfe!

9 Responses To This Post

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Eowyn said, September 4th, 2014 at 3:57 pm

I had a bigger beef with it resembling Mary Anne’s too much.

greer said, September 4th, 2014 at 4:20 pm

@eowyn: really? They are quite different to me, but all of the handwritings were done by the same person, so there’s going to be some similarities.

racergal12 said, September 9th, 2014 at 11:38 am

I’ve never had a problem reading Jessi’s handwriting. I don’t understand what the issue is with someone not being able to read it. The only handwriting I have any difficulty in deciphering in the BSC books is Claudia’s.

Myu said, September 9th, 2014 at 4:49 pm

I found Mary Anne, Claudia and Jessi’s handwriting difficult to read when I was just starting to read the books (about age 8). I think I actually had to have help to read their writing, but I’m not from the US so I wasn’t familiar with those styles of handwriting (I had to look it up, but I *think* in Scotland we were taught Nelson Round Hand). I got better at reading it as time went on, though, and I only skipped reading the difficult handwriting passages for a relatively short period of time.

It did irk me a bit how Mary Anne’s handwriting was always described as being neat and tidy when I personally felt it was cramped and her lines seemed uneven. Of the sitters who wrote in cursive I thought Kristy or Jessi had the neatest handwriting, Mary Anne was in the middle and Claudia had the messiest.

racergal12 said, September 10th, 2014 at 11:15 am

Myu, my husband is from Scotland! I can understand kids having some issues reading the writing.

greer said, September 11th, 2014 at 9:31 am

@racergal12 kids, yes. Adults, no. I started reading the BSC before I learned cursive, actually, so I think I just skipped those entries.

greer said, September 11th, 2014 at 9:33 am

Kristy definitely had the neatest handwriting. It is the hardest for me to imitate. It is finally recognized as being neat in book 100.

greer said, September 11th, 2014 at 9:34 am

@racergal12 I don’t understand it either. Claudia’s is messy AND spelled poorly.

Jaszmyna said, August 6th, 2015 at 11:40 am

I use to love Jessi’s writing! It was always my favorite section. It has never occurred to me until I read this that it may be difficult for children to read. I was about 7 when I started reading this series. I think it wasn’t hard to read because my dad’s handwriting is very similar to Jessi’s. He only wrote in cursive and I inherited that from him. I always thought his (and Jessi’s) handwriting was so beautiful. lol…but I’ve been told I have weird taste.

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