Book Review: Ralph S. Mouse by Beverly Cleary

September 11, 2004


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Ralph S. Mouse
by Beverly Cleary

The third book in the series that began with The Mouse and the Motorcycle, and continued with Runaway Ralph, takes off when Ralph befriends the son of the hotel’s new housekeeper. Ryan agrees to take Ralph to school with him, but things turn out as neither of them planned.

Soon, Ryan’s whole class is doing mouse-related projects, while their mascot surreptitiously runs loose in the school at night. Of course, this leads to trouble at the school and a rocky stretch in Ralph’s and Ryan’s friendship. Meanwhile, Ryan and a classmate named Brad are struggling to understand each other while they work together on their mouse-studies project. And when a knock-down fight between the boys destroys Ralph’s beloved motorcycle, it looks like any chance of friendship between the three of them is finished. With a school-wide mousehunt in the works, Ralph’s chances aren’t too good…

As always, the characters in the story accept the magic of their situation with good-humored casualness. The story is quick, crisply told, and full of wit. Here’s a sample:

“No sooner had Ryan sat down at the table than he and the rest of Room 5 stood up again to recite some words about a flag and something about liberty and justice for all. Whatever it was, Ralph hoped mice were included.”

Clearly, this is an author who loves the kind of little boy (not to mention the kind of mouse) who dreams of driving motorcycles…and other things. But I think boys and girls alike will enjoy it for its charm and whimsy, while the serious bits about mouse and boy growing-pains sneak by.