I dearly love Ramona, but my all-time favorite Beverly Cleary character has to be Ralph S. Mouse. There’s just something about that precocious little fella that gets me every time. Maybe I see a little of myself in him. Maybe I remember being just a little irresponsible and wanting so much to grow up. Maybe I just love the idea of a young mouse who trills with the speed of a tiny red motorcycle trimmed with chrome and dual exhausts. I always have wished animals could talk.
The Mouse and the Motorcycle is a marvelously imaginative story delivered with just the right blend of adventure and fun. Ralph is a medium-sized mouse who lives in the Mountain View Inn. When a young boy named Keith checks into Ralph’s room, they find that mice and boys who share a love of motorcycles naturally speak the same language, and they become friends. Through a series of humorous, kid-pleasing adventures, Ralph proves to Keith that he’s growing up, and Keith, before departing, kindly leaves his toy motorcycle in Ralph’s possession.
But that’s only the beginning of Ralph’s story. In the second book of the trilogy, Runaway Ralph decides he’s sick of scrounging for crumbs, and he’s had it with the scores of young siblings and cousins always begging for rides on his precious motorcycle. So he decides to run away from home. (This one will tickle every one of us who ever packed a suitcase!) He finally lands at Happy Acres Camp and meets Garf, an unhappy little boy. Ralph ends up with much more than just the peanut butter and jelly sandwich he’s been craving. After run-ins with cats, dogs, cages and one alfalfa-hating hamster, he learns a lot about what’s really important to him.
In Ralph S. Mouse, Ralph meets another young boy named Ryan and ends up haunting the halls of the Irwin J. Sneed Elementary School. It takes a few close encounters with danger and some disagreements before Ralph and Ryan learn a hard lesson–and Ralph ends up with a new vehicle to drive!
While the first installment is my favorite, I highly recommend them all three books. Each describes a different adventure, with different boys and different situations, but each is written by a master craftswoman with a keen understanding of how children think and what they love. I’ve yet to meet the child Ralph didn’t delight.
Read more of my Beverly Cleary reviews.