Title: Runaway RalphRunaway-Ralph
Author: Beverly Cleary
Illustrator: Louis Darling
Pages: 175
Reading Level: 9-12
Star Rating: ★★★

Ralph of the Ralph S. Mouse series returns.

The Story.                             

Boss him around, will they? Tell him when he can and can’t ride his motorcycle, will they? Try to control where he can and can’t go, will they? He’ll just show them! He’ll run away! He’ll leave them, and they can’t stop him!

Ralph decides that the only way to escape from it all is to ride down the big hill that stretches below Mountain View Inn and take on the world! But when he gets stuck at Happy Acre Camp with its hordes of schoolchildren, incapable watchdog, and scary cat, Ralph begins to wonder if life will ever return to normal.

Discussion.

The premise of Ralph is imaginary – he can speak with some humans (it depends on how sympathetic the human is), and drives around his toy motorcycle by saying “Pb-pb-b-b-b”.

Relationships are (as always) the biggest problem in this Ralph the Mouse story. Ralph has a plethora of relatives who swarm the hotel. They consist mainly of overbearing, bossy uncles and whiny, annoying cousins. In the beginning of the story, these two groups descend up Ralph, demanding that he allow them rides on his motorcycle and offering all sorts of moral advice that he doesn’t want to hear. He gives the rides, but begrudges them in what is part good stewardship (he believes they’ll harm the motorcycle), and part outright selfishness (he doesn’t feel like sharing). Finally, he decides that he’s had enough, that he can’t stand his family, and that rebelling and running away will solve all of his problems. In the end, after he has fallen into all sorts of difficulties in the outer world, he decides that he wants to go back home. It’s a form of redemption, but it comes less from moral realization and more as a desire to escape from the consequences of his foolish actions.

When Ralph sees several rocking chairs moving in the wind, he says he felt as though ghosts were in them.

A boy sings a song about a fairy. He also sings a gruesome song about dismembered animals.

‘Drat’ is used six times.

Conclusion. Better than Ralph S. Mouse or The Mouse and the Motorcycle, but not without issues.

Review © 2013 Laura Verret

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