by Beverly Cleary (1970)
Ralph the Mouse returns in Runaway Ralph, by Beverly Cleary – the sequel to the popular The Mouse and the Motorcycle.
We find Ralph still at the Mountain View Inn. But he is feeling lonely and unappreciated. His family and siblings tease him. And he doesn’t want to be a “crumb-scrounging mouse.” He wants to be independent. Along with his motorcycle, he wants a life of speed and independence and adventure.
So he hightails it to the Happy Acres Summer Camp – and that’s where Ralph’s new adventures ensue. Cleary keeps things off-balance as Ralph deals with human adults (at the Inn and at Camp); with other species (a gopher, a dog, and a cat); with other rodents (including a pet store hamster); and with human children. In particular Ralph empathizes with a misfit boy not entirely happy at camp named Garf.
Ralph’s adventures are by turns funny and scary. But it is when Ralph gets emotional – mad, sympathetic, or scheming – that Runaway Ralph becomes not just a sequel, but a book children and families can enjoy and learn from. It is at those moments – when Ralph feels for Garf’s misunderstood lonely frustration and schemes to help him – that Runaway Ralph becomes special and worth sharing with an entire school community.