Literature: Ralph S Mouse

The Ralph S. Mouse series is a trilogy of children's chapter books by Beverly Cleary. Spanning a rather short 17 years, the first two books were illustrated by Louis Darling; the last one by Paul O. Zelinksy.

The first book, The Mouse And The Motorcycle, deals with Ralph and his adventures around Mountain View Inn once a boy named Keith gives him a toy motorcycle. The second, Runaway Ralph, deals with Ralph running away from home and going to a summer camp, where he stays in a cage with a grouchy hamster named Chum. The third, Ralph S. Mouse, has Ralph becoming friends with a new boy named Ryan, who lets him live at school.

These novels contain examples of:

  • Animal Talk: An interesting variation. All the animal characters are capable of speech with one another, but only Ralph seeems to have the ability to talk to humans - and even then, only certain humans (mostly young boys), not a whole rookery.
  • Cats Are Mean: All the cats in Runaway Ralph, especially Catso.
  • Disappeared Dad: Ralph's dad was killed some time before the first book by an asprin pill. He was carrying it in his cheek and it dissolved.
  • Dungeon Bypass: In Ralph S. Mouse, the kids at school build a maze for Ralph to run through. Ralph climbs on top of the walls to look for the cheese, to the annoyance of Ryan (who helped build the maze to see how smart Ralph was in the first place).
  • Grumpy Bear: Chum. He's easily the most cynical character in the series, although Ralph takes a liking to him.
  • Heel-Face Turn: In Ralph S. Mouse, Brad is introduced as a mean kid and borderline bully, who punches Ryan in a fight and breaks Ralph's cherished motorcycle. After he and Ryan actually talk, they end up becoming friends and Brad gives Ryan a car to replace the motorcycle.
  • It Runs on Nonsensoleum: Ralph can drive toy vehicles by making the appropriate noises. And drive them in reverse by making the noises backwards.
  • Metaphor Is My Middle Name: "The S. stands for Smart."
  • Mouse World
  • Nervous Wreck: Ralph's mother. Almost every scene she's in, she's worried about something. Admittedly, being a mouse and all, she has a damn good reason to worry...
  • Playground Song: "Great Green Globs of Greasy Grimy Gopher Guts" makes an appearance in Runaway Ralph.
  • Slice of Life: Well, slice of mouse life, anyway.
  • Surprisingly Functional Toys: The first book with its titular motorcycle, and the third with its fancy sports car.