You have to make a noise... pb-pb-b-b-b.
Ralph S. Mouse (the S stands for Smart), lives in room 215 of the Mountain View Inn and has never ventured outside of that very room until Keith Gridley leaves his toy motorcycle unattended in the hotel room. When Ralph finds it, he knows that a motorcycle that looks as real as this one, with its every chrome detail etched out and its real wire spokes and shiny red paint, surely must run. And when Keith, a lonely boy who takes time to listen to and make friends with Ralph, explains that all it takes is purring your lips together in a pb-pb-b-b-b, Ralph is set off on all sorts of adventures.
The Mouse and the Motorcycle is Beverly Cleary’s launching pad for her three-book Ralph S. Mouse series, about the curious mouse and his adventures in the world of humans. In this book, after learning how to ride the motorcycle, Ralph escapes to the wide world of the hotel. Allowed only to ride at night, to avoid detection, Ralph travels for the first time outside of his room and into the lobby, kitchen, and even outside the hotel to the yard.
However, being such an inquisitive and rambunctious mouse, Ralph most certainly finds himself in a few dilemmas. On several occasions, Ralph finds himself in predicaments involving unfriendly humans, intimidating dogs and cats, and even a hungry owl. The climax of the story is attained when Ralph loses the motorcycle and must venture to find it before Keith must leave to continue his vacation. When Keith realizes what Ralph has gone through in order to return the motorcycle, he feels that Ralph is more than deserving of keeping it. Keith thus sets the mouse free to explore the world in his following adventures, Runaway Ralph and Ralph S. Mouse.
The Mouse and the Motorcycle is an excellent book for young chapter readers and will delight both boys and girls alike. This book is a little bit about responsibility and a little bit about imagination and a lot about the perfect blending of the two. Cleary is a highly celebrated children’s author for a good reason and this book is clearly one of those reasons.
The Mouse and the Motorcycle was also made into a “Weekend Special” made-for-tv-movie for the broadcasting network ABC. It was adapted from the book by Jim Carlson in a fairly streamline manor and plays well to Cleary’s original plot; Ron Underwood directed. Its original airdate was in 1986. The film making is pretty hokey and what you can expect for a television movie from the 80’s, but imaginative kids will still get a kick out of it.
I also recall this book being adapted into a television show in the mid 1990’s for the CBS (or possibly ABC) Saturday morning children’s line-up, under the title Mouse on a Motorcycle, but unfortunately cannot find much information other than a title listing to prove its existence.