The Mouse and the Motorcycle

by Beverly Cleary (1965)

Also Available in Spanish.

Beverly Cleary’s The Mouse and the Motorcycle is recommended as a first-time book for newer One School, One Book members. It 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.

Written by the prolific Beverly Cleary way back in 1965, it tells the story of a lonely boy in a hotel and the intrepid mouse who makes full use of a toy motorcycle. Hijinks, drama, adventures ensue, and they are as accessible to students now as they have been in the decades past. Some tricks and techniques never fail, and Beverly Cleary has mastered them.

Children will be stimulated as they identify with two protagonists:  the boy, Keith, trying to entertain himself while stuck in a motel; and the mouse, Ralph, who negotiates his realm both simply and fantastically.

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 or even inconsequential story actually works its literary magic, imparting its gifts and charms seamlessly and inconspicuously.

One of the goals of One School, One Book is to develop what we call a “culture of literacy” – an environment that supports and encourages the habit of reading aloud regularly and independently.  The Mouse and the Motorcycle serves that goal well by introducing families to the wide array of titles by Beverly Cleary.  We recommend families interested in developing their shared reading habits start with the two sequels – Runaway Ralph (1970) and Ralph S. Mouse (1982).  After all the fun with Ralph, they can move on to the huge cast of characters in the Beverly Cleary canon, from Ramona to Henry Huggins to Ribsy.

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