The Mouse and the Motorcycle

by Beverly Cleary (1965)

An Intro and Sweet Spot selection.

Also Available in Spanish.

“Keith, the boy in the rumpled shorts and shirt, did not know he was being watched as he entered room 215 of the Mountain View Inn.”

Ralph, a young mouse, lives with his family in a knothole at the Mountain View Inn. He isn’t like other mice, though – he’s constantly on the lookout for adventure, especially something that will take him beyond the hotel’s second floor. So when Keith, who is on vacation with his parents, arrives at the inn, Ralph is thrilled to find Keith has a miniature motorcycle small enough for a mouse to ride. 

“Neither the mouse nor the boy was the least bit surprised that each could understand the other. Two creatures who shared a love for motorcycles naturally spoke the same language.”

Though Ralph’s initial ride on the motorcycle isn’t quite what he expected it to be, Keith encourages him to keep trying. Both boy and mouse are able to communicate and bond over their shared love of motorcycles. They find a way for Ralph to properly ride the toy motorcycle: by making the pb-pb-b-b-b of a real engine, of course! 

Written by the prolific Beverly Cleary way back in 1965, the hijinks, drama, and adventures that ensue are as accessible to students now as they have been for decades past. Some tricks and techniques never fail, and Beverly Cleary has mastered them. Cleary is a master of clear, brisk, exciting prose, especially when she describes how Ralph feels emotionally about his prized motorcycle. It is here that a seemingly simple story actually works its literary magic, imparting its gifts and charms seamlessly and inconspicuously.

“I grew up, didn’t I? You said yourself I had become a responsible mouse.

The Mouse and the Motorcycle is the perfect title for schools looking for a book with simpler prose that will go down easier with families who are new to reading aloud.  And there is plenty of adventure for more seasoned read aloud families, too.

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