Children's, Cleary-Beverly, Feel-Good, Fiction

#616 The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary

The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly ClearyThe Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary

Ralph S. Mouse lives in the upstairs of an inn with his mother and all his younger brothers and sisters. There are also plenty of other relatives in the inn as well. They live in various rooms. Ralph and his family live in room 615. They go in and out of their home via knothole in the wall. Ralph used to have a father, but he carried as aspirin tablet in his mouth and got poisoned.

A boy named Keith comes to the inn. He has a toy motorcycle, which Ralph is instantly fascinated with. When the boy leaves the room, Ralph climbs up on the bedside table to play with the motorcycle. It doesn’t go, it’s a toy, but Ralph pretends. He pretends himself into the wastebasket, which he cannot get out of. One of his relatives died that way.

The boy comes back and finds Ralph. To Ralph’s amazement, he can speak to Keith and Keith can understand. The two quickly strike up friendship wherein Keith teaches Ralph how to ride the motorcycle. At one point Ralph loses the motorcycle in the laundry, but Keith is still pretty nice about it and brings Ralph and his family food.

In an unfortunate turn of events, Keith gets sick and it’s up to Ralph to help him out. This is the story of how Ralph ended up being the mouse with the motorcycle.

What I liked

Ralph is quite the interesting mouse. I’ve never had a mouse– I mean, intentionally. I’ve had mice unintentionally. In fact, one evening, my cats were quite interested in something on the ceiling and it turned out to be a mouse poking its face out of my air vent. What that bodes for my duct work, I’m not sure.

I’ve had a rat though, a hairless rat, and it was a pretty good pet.

What I didn’t like

You cannot just make a noise like a motorcycle and make it go. It has to have an engine, or be pushed, or something. I cannot go and sit on a motorcycle and go “pbbbbbbb,” and expect the motorcycle to go anywhere. I get that we’re talking about “using your imagination,” but…I don’t know, let’s have a little reality with it. As I’ve said before, some of the best fiction has a lot of fact in it. Make something fictional, but make it a believable fictional. Give reasons for XYZ thing to be a real and working thing, even if the XYZ thing is not real in the slightest. I don’t find that making a motorcycle noise to make a motorcycle go is believable.


I want to see a mouse driving around in a tiny tank.

Weigh In

If a mouse came up to you and talked, what would you do?

If you could make your car go by making a car noise, would you do it, or would you want to stick with gas so you didn’t have to make a car noise all the time?


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