Runaway Ralph

Runaway Ralph (Book #2) by Beverly Cleary
(Summary taken from inside the book jacket) “Ralph is the only mouse living at the Mountain View Inn who owns a motorcycle–which means he has the perfect opportunity to explore the mysterious “summer camp” nearby. Ralph isn’t sure what a summer camp is, but he’s determined to find out. One night, fed up with his younger relatives’ pesky demands to borrow his motorcycle, he takes off for Happy Acres Camp. But once he gets there, he’s confronted by a watchdog, a grouchy gopher, and an entire family of cats. Then he’s captured by an unhappy boy named Garf. Ralph is desperate to escape….but maybe he needs to help Garf before Garf can help him.”
Ralph is at it again, and this time he is even more adventurous! He actually leaves the hotel and travels to the summer camp. This is a fun sequel to The Mouse and the Motorcycle. My daughter (going into third grade) just finished it, and she loved it as much as I did. I’m so happy that this new technological-savvy group of kids can still enjoy a classical fun story. I love that I can share with her the books I loved as a child, and that she enjoys them as well. This book not only has action and adventure, but it also has some good lessons. Ralph learns that he can’t “judge a book by its cover,” when it comes to human friends, and he learns that sometimes solutions to problems take time. There is even a lesson about jumping to conclusions and judging someone to be guilty without giving him a chance to explain or share his side of the story. All these lessons are pertinent today. Even though Garf comes across as grumpy and isolated, you know that he just wants a friend, and he wants to be trusted. This book has some fun characters in it, and is well written. It’s a fun series. It would also make a great read-aloud. My daughter is going into third grade next year and was able to read it on her own. It’s about a second grade reading level, it may be okay for a really high-level first grader. As a read-aloud I’d say preschool and above.
Rating: G (It’s clean! There are a few scenes that may be a little scary for some preschoolers, but that’s it!)
Recommendation: As a read-aloud: Preschool and up. As a silent read: Second grade and up.

The Mouse and the Motorcycle

The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary
(Summary taken from amazon.com) In this imaginative adventure from Newbery Medal-winning author Beverly Cleary, a young mouse named Ralph is thrown into a world of excitement when a boy and his shiny toy motorcycle check into the Mountain View Inn.
When the ever-curious Ralph spots Keith’s red toy motorcycle, he vows to ride it. So when Keith leaves the bike unattended in his room one day, Ralph makes his move. But with all this freedom (and speed!) come a lot of obstacles. Whether dodging a rowdy terrier or keeping his nosy cousins away from his new wheels, Ralph has a lot going on! With a pal like Keith always looking out for him, there’s nothing this little mouse can’t handle.”
I read every single Beverly Cleary book when I was younger, and this was definitely high on my list of favorites! My daughter’s second grade class read this for their last book club of the year, and we had a fun time with it. I actually read it to her because of time constraints, but she could have read it by herself. We liked it so much, in fact, that I went and got the second one from the library. Anyway, it’s just a cute story about a mouse and a little boy. They meet and become friends, and Keith (the boy) allows Ralph (the mouse) to ride his motorcycle around the hotel. Ralph is just a kid mouse and does some irresponsible things, but ends up proving his worth at the end. It’s written well and is easy to read and understand. It has a fun story line that kids like because every kid wants a mouse friend, right? And kids love hotels and the magic that surrounds travelling. Keith is a cute kid that is likable and realistic. I didn’t love his mother in the story, but I’m pretty sure I’d have a lot of her same sentiments if I were in her position. Ralph drove me crazy some of the time, but he learned some good lessons and turned out ok. There are some very good lessons taught in this book: friendship, responsibility, attitude, and doing hard things are a few of the lessons learned. This is a great book for silent reading or a read-aloud. 
Rating: G (Clean!!!)
Recommendation: Second grade and up as a silent read, preschool and up as a read-aloud.