Children's, Cleary-Beverly, Coming of age, Fiction

#606 Runaway Ralph by Beverly Cleary

Runaway Ralph by Beverly ClearyRunaway Ralph by Beverly Cleary

Ralph is fed up with living at the inn. All his cousins want to ride his motorcycle and he’s tired of it. He doesn’t want to hang out with his noisy cousins and he doesn’t want to share his motorcycle. He also doesn’t to be an old mouse always scrounging for food. He decides he’s going to run away. There’s a summer camp close by and he’s going to go there.

One night when the door is open, he zooms his motorcycle out the door and he’s off. The summer camp is mostly downhill so it’s easy to get to, but no sooner does he get there than he starts to experience problems. There’s a watchdog named Sam who Ralph gets past by saying, “Well, watch me,” as he zooms away on his motorcycle, but Ralph almost immediately runs into problems with a cat.

Then he’s caught by a boy in a butterfly net. The boy puts him in a cage. This boy is named Garf. Ralph isn’t sure whether Garf is the kind of person he should like or not. Garf is accused on some things at camp, meanwhile the cat is always eyeing up Ralph. A hamster befriends Ralph and helps him how he can.

In the end, Ralph reveals himself to Garf and Garf helps Ralph get back to his inn.

What I liked

I liked that Ralph made a few new friends in this story, and enemies for that matter. He learns that life on the outside world isn’t at all as great as he expected it to be.

What I didn’t like

I have clearly read this series all out-of-order. I read the last book first, this is the middle book, and I still have the first book to read. I didn’t know that I was that off with this whole thing, but apparently I am.

This running away from home business is stupid. I wish young people and children would just get it into their heads that running away is a stupid idea. Look, disagreeing with your parents about some stupid thing, or the other, or some chore you don’t like to do, or some rule of theirs you don’t like, is all silly and no reason for running away. It’s all part of growing up.

You don’t like sharing something? Well, too bad. You’re a person and people share things.

Running away is a last resort. It’s something you can do if you’re being abused at home. If your parents are beating you everyday and you’re being sexually abused, by all means, run out that door because the psychological trauma is going to outweigh any benefits you might have received from staying at home. The life of a runaway is not easy or peachy.

Stories like this one show a character running away from home and ending up fine even though there are a few close calls, but they leave out the part where the character is murdered, or raped, or trafficked because he/she is alone without anyone to account for their whereabouts.

I don’t like runaway stories because running away is dangerous. These stories where everything ends up ok are not a depiction of what really happens. In reality, Ralph runs away and is eaten by a cat or an owl or a dog.


Just stay at your house Ralph.

Weigh In

Do you think running away will make Ralph happier?

Did Ralph learn his lesson?


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