by Beverly Cleary
New York: Harper, 1965
Age: 4 +
Sequels: Runaway Ralph, Ralph S. Mouse
Also by this author: Ramona the Pest
Ralph S. Mouse is much more adventurous than the rest of his timid family, even before he makes friends with a human boy staying at the motel where they live. The boy, Keith, has a toy motorcycle and he lets Ralph ride it around the hotel. Ralph’s impetuous nature leads him into several scrapes, but the worst one of all is when he loses the motorcycle. He feels terrible about letting Keith down, and embarks on a very courageous quest to help the boy when he is sick. The next day the motorcycle is returned by a friendly motel employee, and when it’s time for Keith to depart he lets Ralph keep the motorbike.
Like all of Cleary’s novels, this is a charming story told so precisely and clearly that children will have no problem following all the action. And there is quite a bit of action, peril, and close escapes, but also a good share of character development, as Ralph learns to be more responsible and to stop and think before leaping into adventures.
A fantastic first chapter book to read to your preschooler, this would be great to read to a range of ages too.