Runaway Ralph

( 37 )


Even mice get away from their pestering siblings. Ralph is no different. And he sure has had it with his mother telling him what to do all the time. But is he prepared for the vast and scary world he'll find once he takes to the road on his motorcycle?

Ralph runs away looking for freedom but winds up a prisoner at a summer camp.

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Runaway Ralph

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Even mice get away from their pestering siblings. Ralph is no different. And he sure has had it with his mother telling him what to do all the time. But is he prepared for the vast and scary world he'll find once he takes to the road on his motorcycle?

Ralph runs away looking for freedom but winds up a prisoner at a summer camp.

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Editorial Reviews

Horn Book
The same combination of simplicity, realistic detail, ingenuity, and humor that made The Mouse and the Motorcycle a resounding success.
Children's Literature
Adventure-seeking Ralph, the motorcycle riding mouse introduced to readers in The Mouse and the Motorcycle, decides to break free from his home at the Mountain View Inn and seek his fortune at a summer camp down the road. Ralph is tired of family obligations and scrounging crumbs. But he doesn't foresee being pursued by a mean old cat and being put in a cage. Life in a cage gives Ralph a new perspective. Suddenly, he misses his family and the creature comforts of the Mountain View Inn. Ralph discovers that he is braver and more resourceful than he thought he was. Readers will find a protagonist to cheer for in this engaging story. And many will identify with Ralph's impatience to do grown up things and his curiosity about the world. 2000 (orig. 1970), HarperTrophy/HarperCollins, $5.95. Ages 7 to 11. Reviewer: Jeanne K. Pettenati AGES: 7 8 9 10 11
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780688217013
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 12/23/2013
  • Series: Mouse and the Motorcycle Series
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 292,563
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 890L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.81 (d)

Meet the Author

Beverly Cleary

Beverly Cleary is one of America's most beloved authors. As a child, she struggled with reading and writing. But by third grade, after spending much time in her public library in Portland, Oregon, she found her skills had greatly improved. Before long, her school librarian was saying that she should write children's books when she grew up.

Instead she became a librarian. When a young boy asked her, "Where are the books about kids like us?" she remembered her teacher's encouragement and was inspired to write the books she'd longed to read but couldn't find when she was younger. She based her funny stories on her own neighborhood experiences and the sort of children she knew. And so, the Klickitat Street gang was born!

Mrs. Cleary's books have earned her many prestigious awards, including the American Library Association's Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, presented to her in recognition of her lasting contribution to children's literature. Dear Mr. Henshaw won the Newbery Medal, and Ramona Quimby, Age 8 and Ramona and Her Father have been named Newbery Honor Books. Her characters, including Beezus and Ramona Quimby, Henry Huggins, and Ralph, the motorcycle-riding mouse, have delighted children for generations.

Jaqueline Rogers has been a professional children's book illustrator for more than twenty years and has worked on nearly one hundred children's books.


Beverly Cleary was inadvertently doing market research for her books before she wrote them, as a young children’s librarian in Yakima, Washington. Cleary heard a lot about what kids were and weren’t responding to in literature, and she thought of her library patrons when she later sat down to write her first book.

Henry Huggins, published in 1950, was an effort to represent kids like the ones in Yakima and like the ones in her childhood neighborhood in Oregon. The bunch from Klickitat Street live in modest houses in a quiet neighborhood, but they’re busy: busy with rambunctious dogs (one Ribsy, to be precise), paper routes, robot building, school, bicycle acquisitions, and other projects. Cleary was particularly sensitive to the boys from her library days who complained that they could find nothing of interest to read – and Ralph and the Motorcycle was inspired by her son, who in fourth grade said he wanted to read about motorcycles. Fifteen years after her Henry books, Cleary would concoct the delightful story of a boy who teaches Ralph to ride his red toy motorcycle.

Cleary’s best known character, however, is a girl: Ramona Quimby, the sometimes difficult but always entertaining little sister whom Cleary follows from kindergarten to fourth grade in a series of books. Ramona is a Henry Huggins neighbor who, with her sister, got her first proper introduction in Beezus and Ramona, adding a dimension of sibling dynamics to the adventures on Klickitat Street. Cleary’s stories, so simple and so true, deftly portrayed the exasperation and exuberance of being a kid. Finally, an author seemed to understand perfectly about bossy/pesty siblings, unfair teachers, playmate politics, the joys of clubhouses and the perils of sub-mattress monsters.

Cleary is one of the rare children’s authors who has been able to engage both boys and girls on their own terms, mostly through either Henry Huggins or Ramona and Beezus. She has not limited herself to those characters, though. In 1983, she won the Newbery Medal with Dear Mr. Henshaw, the story of a boy coping with his parents’ divorce, as told through his journal entries and correspondence with his favorite author. She has also written a few books for older girls (Fifteen, The Luckiest Girl, Sister of the Bride, and Jean and Johnny) mostly focusing on first love and family relationships. A set of books for beginning readers stars four-year-old twins Jimmy and Janet.

Some of Cleary’s books – particularly her titles for young adults – may seem somewhat alien to kids whose daily lives don’t feature soda fountains, bottles of ink, or even learning cursive. Still, the author’s stories and characters stand the test of time; and she nails the basic concerns of childhood and adolescence. Her books (particularly the more modern Ramona series, which touches on the repercussions of a father’s job loss and a mother’s return to work) remain relevant classics.

Cleary has said in an essay that she wrote her two autobiographical books, A Girl from Yamhill and My Own Two Feet, "because I wanted to tell young readers what life was like in safer, simpler, less-prosperous times, so different from today." She has conveyed that safer, simpler era -- still fraught with its own timeless concerns -- to children in her fiction as well, more than half a century after her first books were released.

Good To Know

Word processing is not Cleary's style. She writes, "I write in longhand on yellow legal pads. Some pages turn out right the first time (hooray!), some pages I revise once or twice and some I revise half-a-dozen times. I then attack my enemy the typewriter and produce a badly typed manuscript which I take to a typist whose fingers somehow hit the right keys. No, I do not use a computer. Everybody asks."

Cleary usually starts her books on January 2.

Up until she was six, Cleary lived in Yamhill, Oregon -- a town so small it had no library. Cleary's mother took up the job of librarian, asking for books to be sent from the state branch and lending them out from a lodge room over a bank. It was, Clearly remembers, "a dingy room filled with shabby leather-covered chairs and smelling of stale cigar smoke. The books were shelved in a donated china cabinet. It was there I made the most magical discovery: There were books written especially for children!"

Cleary authored a series of tie-in books in the early 1960s for classic TV show Leave It to Beaver.

Cleary's books appear in over 20 countries in 14 languages.

Cleary's book The Luckiest Girl is based in part on her own young adulthood, when a cousin of her mother's offered to take Beverly for the summer and have her attend Chaffey Junior College in Ontario, California. Cleary went from there to the University of California at Berkeley.

The actress Sarah Polley got her start playing Ramona in the late ‘80s TV series. Says Cleary in a Q & A on her web site: “I won’t let go of the rights for television productions unless I have script approval. There have been companies that have wanted the movie rights to Ramona, but they won’t let me have script approval, and so I say no. I did have script approval for the television productions of the Ramona series…. I thought Sarah Polley was a good little actress, a real little professional.”

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    1. Also Known As:
      Beverly Atlee Bunn (birth name)
    2. Hometown:
      Carmel, California
    1. Date of Birth:
      April 12, 1916
    2. Place of Birth:
      McMinnville, Oregon
    1. Education:
      B.A., University of California-Berkeley, 1938; B.A. in librarianship, University of Washington (Seattle), 1939

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Ralph Hears a Distant Bugle

The small brown mouse named Ralph who was hiding under the grandfather clock did not have much longer, to wait before he could ride his motorcycle. The clock had struck eight already, and then eight thirty.

Ralph was the only mouse in the Mountain View Inn, a run-down hotel in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, who owned a motorcycle. It was a mouse-sized red motorcycle, a present from a boy named Keith who bad been a guest in Room 215 over the Fourth of July weekend. Ralph was proud of his motorcycle, but his brothers and sisters said he was selfish.

"I am not," said Ralph. "Keith gave the motorcycle to me."

That evening, while Ralph waited under the clock and watched the television set across the lobby, a man and a woman followed by a medium-sized boy walked into the hotel. They had the, rumpled look of people who had driven many milesthat day. The boy was wearing jeans, cowboy boots, and a white T-shirt with the words Happy Acres Camp stenciled across the front.

Ralph observed the boy with interest. He was the right kind of boy, a boy sure to like peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches. Since the day Keith had left the hotel, Ralph had longed for crumbs of a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich.

A grating, grinding noise came from the works of the grandfather clock. Ralph clapped Ralph Hears a Distant Bugle his paws over his ears. The clock grumbled and groaned and managed to strike the hour. Nine o'clock! The time almost had come.The stroke of nine was followed by the slow sad notes of music that lingered -and died mysteriously in the distance every night at thishistime.

"Did You hear that?" the man asked the boy. "It was the bugle at camp playing taps."

So that's what that music is, thought Ralph, who had puzzled over those notes all summer.

When the boy did not answer, his mother said, "Come on, Garf, cheer. up. You're going to have a lot of fun at camp."

"Maybe," answered Garf, "but I doubt it."

The father looked annoyed. "You won't have any fun if you take that attitude," he said, and went to the desk to inquire about a room with an extra cot for the night.

Ralph could not understand the boy's behavior. He had often heard other young guests wearing the same kind of white T-shirt speak of a place called camp, but unlike this boy they always sounded eager and excited about going there. Ralph did not know exactly what a camp was, but since medium-sized boys and girls went there, he thought it must be a place where people ate peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches.

The desk clerk summoned old Matt, the elderly bellboy and hotel handyman, to show the family to their room. As Matt picked up their suitcases and led the way to the elevator, he said to Garf, "Well, young fellow, what are you going to have for breakfast tomorrow? Apple pie or chocolate cake?"' Matt, who was not always popular with parents, was always liked by children.

The boy smiled faintly at. Matt's joke as he followed the old man into the elevator. What that boy needs is a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich, thought Ralph.

When Matt returned to the lobby, Ralph watched him go out -onto the hotel porch where he stood for, a few minutes among the empty rocking chairs for his nightly look at the Ralph Hears a Distant Bugle

stars before he retired for the night. The night clerk, a college student hired for the summer, came on duty and settled down on a couch to read a thick book. Ralph's time almost had come. Sure enough, the clerk read a few pages, and then lay down on the couch with the book facedown -on his chest and closed his eyes.

Ralph was free for the night! He darted under the television set where he had-hidden his motorcycle and the crash helmet that Keith had made from half a pingpong ball lined with thistledown. He already had polished the chrome on his motorcycle by licking his paws and rubbing them over the dull spots. Now heset his crash 'helmet on his head, snapped the rubber bind under his chin to hold it in place, and taking care to keep his tail out of the spokes mounted his motorcycle. Next he inhaled deeply andwith a Pb-pb-b-b-bsound, the only sound that will make a miniature motor-cycle go, sped out from under the television set and across the carpet.

Pb-pb-b-b-b! Ralph rode across the lobby...

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 37 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 37 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2009

    The Amazing Mouse

    If you like speed and adventure Runaway Ralph is the book for you. This is a book about bravery, courage and kindness between Chum, Ralph, Garf and Catso. Ralph wants to go to camp because his brothers and sisters annoy him, so he runs away from the Mountain View Inn. A boy catches Ralph but Ralph doesn't like his cage. That's all I'll tell you - if you want to know more read about Ralph, the mouse like no other, in Runaway Ralph.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2014

    It is great!

    It is really good.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 23, 2014

    The Key of Life~ 9

    This will have some kissing for those who wanted it in this chapter. ***** Lanie was not back from St. Mungo's. Michael paced around the house. "Damn, Michael, take a break!" Shaun rolled his eyes. Yet something in his eyes told him that he was worried. Just then Lilly pulled on Shaun's arm. She took him upstairs. Lilly closed the door. Michael, a curious evesdropper, followed them and hid behind a trunk. "I know your worried." She grinned. "Heck, take your mind off it!" Shaun grinned. Lilly scooted closer and they kissed deeply. Michael covered his eyes and snuck out the door. Crack. Lanie had Apparated downstairs. Michael thundered down the stairs and hugged her before yowling, "LANIE'S BACK! SHE'S HERE!" He heard Lilly and Shaun thunder downstairs. Shaun ran over to hug his sister. "You're ok!" Lilly hugged her as well, grinning. "I guess your, uhh, episode was good luck." Michael teased. Shaun turned bright red and Lilly gave him a furious look. Michael grinned. Regus had almost flown off the stairs as he hugged her as well. "Yes. I'm okay!" ***** Michael opened the door and flopped down on Lanie's bed. Lanie spun around. "Yes?" She asked. "Oh, just wanted to come up here. I fancy you and all." Lanie's smile grew wide. She sat down next to him. They kissed deeply and finished just as Shaun basically broke the door down shouting, "ITS MUM! MUM AND DAD! OH THEY'RE OK!" Michael flew out the door with Shaun and Lanie on their heels. In the living room, Mr. and Mrs. Wilson were there with two giant trunks. "Michael! Lanie! Regus! Shaun! Lilly!" Mrs. Wilson tried to scoop all the children in her arms at the same time. "Never found Fred?" Mr. Wilson asked grimly. The 5 stared miserably at him. Shaun spoke up. "Oh Dad, we found him hiding at our old house. Then Deaths invaded and... killed Fred." Mrs. Wilson started crying as Mr. Wilson plopped down sadly. "But M-" "I uhh, tried my hardest." Michael said, cutting Shaun off. "I heard Dolohov, Avery, Bellatrix, and Lucius are gone." Mr. Wilson said happily. Lanie bit her lip. Michael held her hand. Lilly held Shaun's. They would never tell anyone who had really stopped the main Deaths. "What about the rest of the Deaths?" "A black-haired boy chased them away after an encounter with Lucius." All eyes turned to Regus. He grinned sheepishly. "What are you all looking at?" Mr. Wilson asked as Mrs. Wilson cried her heart out about Fred. "What about Nick, Peeves, McGonagall-" "I heard they fled once they heard a scream upstairs." Michael choked back a laugh. Well, he may not of been plastered across the Daily Prophet, but he saved a few friends. That was enough. ***** Last part next res! ~SKY

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2014

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2013


    This is a realy good dook

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2013



    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2013

    Maya The mouse and the motorcycle

    I love the first 2 books they are very good books and I can' t
    wait to read this book!!


    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2012

    This is the best series of books i would ever get

    It's a very good series, but it's not very entertaining. That's why i only rated it 3 stars.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2012


    This is so cute!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2012



    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2012

    Cut Cute book

    Really cute book love it

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 5, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A Childhood staple

    We bought this book.

    Beverly Cleary is a staple of independent reader libraries for good reason. Ralph S. Mouse is daring, brave, and often gets in over his head. Tired of his little sisters and brothers and cousins (who always demand to ride his special bike) Ralph runs away to camp in search of boys he can have fun with )and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches).
    Instead he ends up caught, slapped in a cage, the personal pet of the weirdest boy in camp. Garf sings bad songs, doesn't talk much to the other kids and worse, the other kids think he's a thief. Ralph knows the truth, but can he help Garf, and why would he want to at all with Garf holding his prized motorcycle hostage?
    Ralph is far from a perfect character. He's selfish and a little bratty at times, but in his heart he's a good guy. In a way this makes him easier for kids to relate to, but parents may find themselves irritated at times by Ralph's mindset. Runaway Ralph is an early chapter book, about a hundred and eighty pages long and perfect for nightly reading. Not the best book out there, it's still a solid exploratory read, perfect for Stuart Little or Charlotte's Web fans and a good try-out book for hard to read-to kids (especially boys).
    A staple of beginner libraries Runaway Ralph makes for good memories and good bedtime reading for kids in the five to twelve and great beginner reading for kids ten to twelve.

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  • Posted April 24, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Beverly cleary still rocks!

    I've been reading this series to my six year old son and he loves it! And I've been enjoying is too!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2008

    Runaway Ralph

    If you¿re someone who likes action and excitement, then this is the book for you. ¿Runaway Ralph¿ is a hilarious comedy with nonstop action. It is a treat to all readers out there. Ralph (in his opinion) is a mistreated mouse who deserves better. So he¿s made up his mind that he¿s going to run away to a life of danger and excitement.<BR/> The main characters in this story are Chum, Garf , Sam, and Ralph. Ralph is the main character. Chum, Ralph¿s best friend, is a rabbit. He may be obnoxious at times, but is very loyal to Ralph. Garf is a boy at Happy Acres Camp who saved Ralph from the very mischievous and sinister Catso. Ralph is Garf¿s buddy, but gets easily annoyed because of his terrible songs and voice. Sam is the guard dog, who at first doesn¿t get along with Ralph but later helps him get home back to the Mountain View Inn.<BR/>The setting of ¿Runaway Ralph¿ is at a summer camp called Happy Acres Summer camp. Happy acres camp is a camp where campers sing songs and try to have fun. The campers are very naïve, obnoxious and can¿t mind their business to save their lives. The most responsible things at the camp are Chum, Ralph, Sam, and Cato who aren¿t even human. So what does that tell you about the camp?<BR/>I think Beverly Cleary wrote this story to entertain readers with an interesting story. I recommend this book to kids who like mice, comedy, and action.<BR/><BR/> Beverly Cleary is 92 years old and is still writing books today, if you ask me I think that¿s really impressive.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2005

    this book rocks!!!

    Runaway Ralph.I think that it is very cool because it almost takes you on an adventure.It is a good book for kids,which I am a kid.I like it when he gets on the motorcycle and takes off around the hotel.These book are by Beaverly Cleary.She writes books like Mouse and the Motorcycle and Ralph S. Mouse.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2005

    No more sharing

    Runaway Ralph is a Wonderfull book. It is a great book for children. Runaway Ralph is an exciting book. It tells an amusing story about a Mouse and his need for speed. Ralph is tired of sharing his mortercycle, so he runs away, but soon he gets lonely. A boy catches Ralph and keeps him as a pet. At the end of the story Ralph makes a deal with the boy. The boy takes Ralph home and Ralph clears the boy from his guilt.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2004

    It's my Motorcycle!!

    Ruaway Ralph is a very good book for any small child, or even big child I am in 8th grade at Indian Land School and am reading it.If you like advenure Runaway Ralph is the book for you especially if you like animals.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2002

    2 of 3

    This book has Ralph actually running away from home! Ralph gets into some zany adventures. It's a great novel.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 6, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 37 Customer Reviews

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