The Mouse and the Motorcycle

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The Mouse and the Motorcycle
Mouse and the Motorcycle.jpg
First edition
AuthorBeverly Cleary
IllustratorLouis Darling
CountryUnited States
SeriesThe Mouse and the Motorcycle
PublisherWilliam Morrow
Publication date
Media typePrint (Hardcover and Paperback)
Followed byRunaway Ralph

The Mouse and the Motorcycle is a children's novel written by Beverly Cleary and published in 1965.[1]

Plot summary[edit]

Ralph is a mouse who lives in the run-down Mountain View Inn, a battered resort hotel in the Sierra Nevada mountain range of California. Ralph longs for a life of danger and speed, wishing to get away from his relatives, who worry about the mice colony being discovered. One day a boy named Keith Gridley and his family visit the hotel on their way through California. Keith leaves a toy motorcycle on his bedside table. While Keith is away, Ralph attempts to ride it, but cannot figure out how to start it. Startled by a telephone ring, both Ralph and the motorcycle fall into a metal wastebasket.

Keith discovers his missing motorcycle in the wastebasket. Although Ralph's mother worries that he is in contact with humans, Keith shows Ralph how to start the motorcycle—make an engine-like noise—and lets Ralph ride it at night. While Keith and his family explore California, Ralph recklessly rides the motorcycle through the depths of the hotel. One night he is spotted by Keith's mother, who initially thinks she is imagining things, but later is sure that she saw a mouse riding a motorcycle. Ralph and the motorcycle are almost sucked up by a maid's vacuum cleaner, but Ralph escapes, riding into a pile of linen and dirty bedsheets. He escapes by chewing holes in the sheets, forced to leave the precious vehicle behind.

After Ralph loses the motorcycle, Keith loses trust in him. He still brings the mice colony food. One night Keith becomes very sick, because his parents don't have any more aspirin and are unable to obtain one until morning. To regain Keith's trust, Ralph searches the hotel for an aspirin tablet, at risk to himself, for the medicine could prove fatal to a small mouse if ingested (in fact, Ralph's father was taken down with a bad cold and died in spite of all they could do). Ralph is able to find an aspirin tablet and borrows Keith's toy ambulance to retrieve it. When Ralph is successful, Keith's health is restored. In gratitude, Keith gives Ralph the motorcycle to keep -- one of the hotel's housekeepers had found it among the linens from which Ralph escaped. Ralph uses the space under the TV set in the lobby as a garage; the motorcycle is his to keep.



The book was released as a selection of the Weekly Reader Children's Book Club - Intermediate Division.

Film adaptation[edit]

Churchill Films produced an adaptation of The Mouse and the Motorcycle directed by Ron Underwood in 1986, featuring Mimi Kennedy and Ray Walston. The film was distributed by Strand Home Video and Golden Book Video under the "GoldenVision" label.[2]


  1. ^ The Mouse and the Motorcycle: HarperTrophy Books. Retrieved 5 March 2012.
  2. ^ ""ABC Weekend Specials" : The Mouse and the Motorcycle". Retrieved 5 March 2012.
Preceded by
The Grizzly
Winner of the
William Allen White Children's Book Award

Succeeded by
Henry Reed's Baby-Sitting Service