Title: The Mouse and the Motorcycle
Series: Ralph S. Mouse #1
Series: Ralph S. Mouse #1
Author: Beverly Cleary
Illustrators: Louis Darling & Tracy Dockray
Publication Date: 1965
Nene Award (1969)
Student's Choice Youth Award (Iowa)
"Pb-pb-b-b-b. Pb-pb-b-b-b." With these magic vocables, Ralph the mouse revs up a dream come true--his very own motorcycle. Living in a knothole in a hotel room, young Ralph has seen plenty of families come and go, some more generous with their crumbs than others. But when young Kieth and his parents check in to the hotel, Ralph gets his first chance to check out. He has always fantasized about venturing beyond the second floor, maybe even outside. Curiosity overcomes caution, and Ralph must have a go at Kieth's toy motorcycle. Soon, the headstrong mouse finds himself in a pickle, when all he wanted was to ride a motorcycle. Lucky for him, the boy understands how it is. When he discovers Ralph in his thwarted attempt to abscond with the toy bike, Kieth generously encourages the rodent to ride. He even teaches him the simple way to start the motorcycle: "You have to make a noise... pb-pb-b-b-b." The subsequent situations Ralph motors into require quick thinking and grownup-sized courage.
Ralph is a young mouse living with his extensive family in an inn in California. He's usually content with the crumbs that young children drop while staying in room 215 but when Keith and his motorcycle come to stay in the room for a few days, he realizes he has a bigger purpose in life. Keith has a toy motorcycle that draws Ralph in and he can't help but attempt to ride it. But he accidentally rides it into a wastebasket. Luckily, he is found by the boy, Keith, who likes mice and is thrilled to find that he can speak to Ralph. Keith shows Ralph the proper way to ride his toy motorcycle and Ralph soon finds himself addicted to the rush and adrenaline of riding.
I grew up with this story through the movie adaptation and owned the sequel 'Runaway Ralph' which I read several times as a kid but I somehow never read this first book. I loved stories about talking mice as a kid and it's no wonder. This is such a charming little story. I've read or re-read books from the 50's through the 90's and most of them just feel so old. 'The Mouse on the Motorcycle' doesn't feel that way to me. There are no mentions of things that are pretty much obsolete in this decade so I can easily place myself in the story and relate to the characters even though I know how old it really is.
The Mouse and the Motorcycle is sure to be enjoyed for years to come, especially by little boys who love motorcycles.