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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Top 100 Children’s Novels #89: The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary

#89 The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary (1967)
22 points

The classic! The current popular Humphrey books (about the classroom hamster) could never be without Ralph and his motorcycle. – Gina Detate

We’re only into our second round of chapter book reveals and already Beverly Cleary has made another appearance (her first being Ramona and Her Father at #94).  And for a book that has fans, albeit quiet ones.  I think Gina put it best here when she pointed out that the current crop of small pet-like heroes (Sasspants, Humphrey, Freddy, etc.) owe this little guy a huge debt.

The description from the publisher reads, “Ralph the mouse ventures out from behind the piney knothole in the wall of his hotel-room home, scrambles up the telephone wire to the end table, and climbs aboard the toy motorcycle left there by a young guest. His thrill ride does not last long. The ringing telephone startles Ralph, and he and the motorcycle take a terrible fall – right to the bottom of a metal wastebasket. Luckily, Keith, the owner of the motorcycle, returns to find his toy. Keith rescues Ralph and teaches him how to ride the bike. Thus begins a great friendship and many awesome adventures. Once a mouse can ride a motorcyle … almost anything can happen!”

Harper Collins has an amusing list of awards won by the book.  These include (but clearly are not limited to):

  • Nene Award (Hawaii)
  • William Allen White Children’s Book Award (Kansas)
  • ALA Notable Children’s Book
  • ALA Notable Children’s Book
  • Great Stone Face Book Award (New Hampshire)
  • Great Stone Face Book Award (New Hampshire)
  • Pacific Northwest Library Association Young Reader’s Choice Award
  • Pacific Northwest Library Association Young Reader’s Choice Award
  • Pacific Northwest Library Association Young Reader’s Choice Award

Many a cover has existed in the day.

Though my favorite cover may be this one by Meredith Fern.

And then there was the live action/stop animation film . . .

About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. Ralph finds new worshipers ever year. The “Classic” tag is not bandied about cheaply in this case.

  2. I LOVED this book as a kid-I look forward to reading it again!

  3. I thought about putting this book on my list. Love it! I remember my Mom read it to my little brother (who usually wouldn’t sit still for a book) and she loved to talk about it, saying “Of COURSE the way to make a toy motorcycle go is make a motorcycle noise! Every little boy knows that!”

    Later, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book to my son. We read all the Ralph books to him. A lovely classic.