Title: The Mouse and the MotorcycleThe-Mouse-and-the-Motorcycle
Author: Beverly Cleary
Pages: 158
Reading Level: 9-12
Star Rating: ★★

Remember Ralph S. Mouse? Well, it turns out that Ralph was the sequel to The Mouse and the Motorcycle!

The Story.

Ralph is in big trouble. He just wanted to try the motorcycle that the boy in room 215 had left on his desk. But the jangling telephone had jarred his nerves so, that he’d accidentally steered the motorcycle off of the desk and into the wastebasket! There is no way to escape up these metal walls. What will happen to him?

Thankfully, the boy from room 215 returns before the maid empties the wastebasket. The boy, Keith, is a very sympathetic soul who helps Ralph out of the wastebasket and allows him to ride the motorcycle around in the room. They have nice chats together and become great friends.

But danger is afoot. Because of Ralph’s daring expeditions into the outer hotel world, management has decided to wage a war on mice. They will be rooted out and destroyed. Unless… unless…

If the mice can convince Keith to furnish them with food, they will be saved. But will he be able to provide them with enough food to last them past his departure? And when he falls sick with a fever, is there any way that Ralph can help him to recover?

Cautions.

The entire premise of the story is obviously false. Mice and humans are capable of communicating with one another, and mice are able to ride on toy cars and motorcycles simply by making the noise of the vehicle.

Both Keith and Ralph have negative relationships with their mothers – Ralph’s is the one which is more explored in the story. Ralph’s mother is portrayed as a querulous mother who does nothing but doubt her son, feel nervous over his recklessness, and complain about his behavior. Ralph responds in a ‘buzz off’ sort of attitude, arguing with her, disregarding her counsel, and even outright disobeying her. Ralph’s very relationship with Keith is conducted against his mother’s wishes, although, of course, in the end, she is shown how stupid and over-protective she was and why Ralph was right. In the following scene, Ralph and Keith are both complaining about their mothers.

“Gee, you’re lucky,” whispered the boy.

In order to answer, Ralph had to stop. “I am?” It had never occurred to him that a mouse could be luckier than a boy.

“You sure are.” The boy spoke with feeling. “My mother would never let me ride a motorcycle. She would say I might break a leg or something silly like that.”

“Well, if you want to come right down to it,” said Ralph, “I don’t suppose my mother would be exactly crazy about the idea.” He began to have an uneasy felling that he really should be getting back to the mousehole.

“Anyway,” said the boy gloomily, “it will be years and years before I’m old enough to ride a motorcycle, and then when I am old enough my mother won’t let me.”

Ralph really felt sorry for the boy, hampered as he was by his youth and his mother. [pgs. 46-47]

When the mice are in danger of being exterminated, Ralph places himself as leader over his family (including Aunts and Uncles, who are all portrayed as being stupid because they do not agree with Ralph) and issues orders which he expects them to all obey.

Ralph also has a few cocky moments – here is one of them.

Because the dog was a captive and he was free, Ralph could not resist sticking out his tongue and waggling his paws in his ears, a gesture he had learned from children in room 215 and one he knew was sure to arouse anger.

“Let me at him,” barked the little terrier.

“Cut it out,” grumbled the man, fumbling for the doorknob of room 211 while Ralph, a dare-devil now, rode in a giddy circle around the ash-tray stand.  He had a feeling of cockiness he had never known before. Who said mice were timid? Ha! [pgs. 55-56]

In one scene, Keith’s parents are having a disagreement. Keith starts to make a comment about an unrelated topic, but stops because he realizes that he “should not interrupt an argument.” [pg. 13]

‘Gee’ is used four times, ‘gee whiz’, ‘dickens’, and ‘golly’ are each used once.

Conclusion. Not nearly as endearing or acceptable for children as its sequel Ralph S. Mouse. Not a book I would especially recommend.

Review © 2012 Laura Verret

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