Synopsis of "Ralph S. Mouse" by Beverly Cleary

by Maria D. Laso

The hero of the 1982 novel "Ralph S. Mouse" by Beverly Cleary is a talking, motorcycle-riding mouse (the S stands for Smart) who lives behind a pine knothole in Room 215 of the Mountain View Inn. But all is not peanut butter sandwiches, and Ralph persuades his friend Ryan to take him to school. At first things go well, but can Ralph maneuver the maze of new challenges?

The Full Story

Ralph S. Mouse has only so much patience with Ralph's annoying siblings and cousins who won't leave his precious motorcycle alone. Plus, Ralph's friend Matt the bellman is getting heat because of reports of mice in the hotel. So Ralph talks his pal Ryan into taking him -- and his motorcycle -- to school. Ryan's classmates are crazy about Ralph, but he is not wild about being made to run through mazes. Next there is talk of an exterminator coming to the school. Ryan gets into a fight with Brad, and Ralph's motorcycle is the casualty. The mouse blames Ryan but also tells off the bully. Meanwhile, Ralph has problems of his own with a persistent janitor. Brad helps Ralph and Ryan make up. Ralph uses his thinking cap (his motorcycle helmet) to restore order, and the two boys become friends when they realize they have more in common than their ability to understand talking mice. Ralph returns to live at the inn, and Brad goes to visit Ryan. Brad gives Ralph a toy sports car, which the mouse uses to give rides to other mice.

About Ralph

Ralph Smart Mouse is featured -- although not by name -- in two earlier novels by Beverly Cleary, "The Mouse and the Motorcycle" and "Runaway Mouse." Ralph can speak with certain people, typically loners. He makes his motorcycle and car run by making engine noises. He is extremely fond of his motorcycle helmet, and his favorite food is peanut butter sandwiches. He does not like mazes, cats or vacuum cleaners.

Related Activities

If you enjoy the book "Ralph S. Mouse," read the other books in the series. Watch the 2007 movie, which combines live action and animation. Learn more about mice. Read Beverly Cleary's autobiography. Build a maze or a mousetrap or design another elaborate machine designed to do a simple task. Compare and contrast Brad and Ryan. Write a report about conflict resolution by figuring out how Ralph and Ryan and Brad and the janitor relate to one another.

About the Author

Beloved children's book author Beverly Cleary was the creator of Ramona Quimby, Beezus and the other memorable denizens of Henry Huggins' world. She was born in Oregon on April 12, 1916. She spent her early years on a farm in Yamhill; her autobiography is called "A Girl From Yamhill." Beverly's mother became a sort of accidental librarian by bringing books from the state library to the town of Yamhill, which had never had a library before. Beverly's mother instilled Beverly with a love of words and of books from an early age. In school, Beverly had trouble with reading but eventually became a voracious reader. "Dear Mr. Henshaw" was published in 1984, and was her fictionalized account of that experience. "Dear Mr. Henshaw" earned Beverly the Newbery Medal, children's literature's highest award. Beverly went to college and worked as a children's librarian until she married and had twins. Written in her 30s, "Henry Huggins" was Beverly's first book. She has won many awards for her work since then.

About the Author

Maria D. Laso is a trilingual writer-editor with more than 25 years experience; she now freelances, teaches and coaches writers. She publishes two 'zines written by and for young women and has a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from Northwestern University.