One of the most popular characters ever created by Beverly Cleary is the small brown mouse named Ralph, whose modest appearance disguises the soul of a daredevil. Now he returns in a book that tells how he runs away from home on his mouse-sized motorcycle in search of freedom and adventure.
Ralph's destination is a summer camp, where he hopes crumbs from peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches will be plentiful. But instead of finding freedom, he lands in a cage, doing endless loop the loops on an exercise wheel. The story of how Ralph and a lonely boy named Garf discover they speak the same language involves a villainous cat, a grouchy hamster, and many campers. Each episode is funnier than the last.
On one level, Mrs. Cleary's story is a delightful tour de force. On another, it delivers a message about running away that is all the more effective because it is unobtrusive.
About the Author
Beverly Cleary is one of America's most beloved authors. As a child, she struggled with reading and writing. But by third grade, after spending much time in her public library in Portland, she found her skills had greatly improved. Before long, her school librarian was saying that she should write children's books when she grew up.
Instead she became a librarian. When a young boy asked her, "Where are the books about kids like us?" she remembered her teacher's encouragement and was inspired to write the books she'd longed to read but couldn't find when she was younger. She based her funny stories on her own neighborhood experiences and the sort of children she knew. And so, the Klickitat Street gang was born!
Mrs. Cleary's books have earned her many prestigious awards, including the American Library Association's Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, presented to her in recognition of her lasting contribution to children's literature. Ramona Quimby, Age 8 and Ramona and Her Father have also been named Newbery Honor Books. Her characters, including Beezus and Ramona Quimby, Henry Huggins, and Ralph, the motorcycle-riding mouse, have delighted children for generations.
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