RALPH S. MOUSE

Still ensconced at Mountain View Inn in Cucaracha, California, Cleary's endearing little talking mouse with the motorcycle finds himself the cause of trouble at the inn. First, his nighttime cycling sprees have drawn several envious little relatives to the inn's lobby, where they clamor for turns to ride and call Ralph "greedy" for refusing; he in turn shocks them and himself by calling them "rotten little rodents." What's more, the droppings from all those mice have got Ralph's handyman friend old Matt in trouble with the management, And so to escape his relatives and save Matt's job, Ralph talks his friend Ryan Bramble, the son of the inn's new housekeeper, into taking him off to live at his school. Fortunately, Ryan's teacher is the sympathetic, enlightened sort—so that when Ralph is discovered in Ryan's pocket she turns the occasion into a class project on mice. During Ralph's week at school, his beloved motorcycle is broken during a fight between Ryan and surly classmate Brad—but Ralph is "speechless with joy" when Brad gives him a sports car in its place. In the end, lonely Ryan and equally lonely Brad have become friends ("because of me," Ralph reflects with satisfaction); Ralph is proud "because he had helped Miss K. educate her class"; and Ralph himself has learned enough from Miss K.'s classroom methods to manage his relatives' demands for rides in the new sports car. A little short, perhaps, on Cleary's under-the-skin empathy; but as usual the little things, down to Ralph's learning to say vroom-vroom-vroom, not pb-b-b, pb-b-b (the motorcycle noise), to start his car—and moorv (vroom backwards) to back it up, tune readers in to Ralph's experiences.

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 1982

ISBN: 0380709570

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1982

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THE WONKY DONKEY

The print version of a knee-slapping cumulative ditty.

In the song, Smith meets a donkey on the road. It is three-legged, and so a “wonky donkey” that, on further examination, has but one eye and so is a “winky wonky donkey” with a taste for country music and therefore a “honky-tonky winky wonky donkey,” and so on to a final characterization as a “spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey.” A free musical recording (of this version, anyway—the author’s website hints at an adults-only version of the song) is available from the publisher and elsewhere online. Even though the book has no included soundtrack, the sly, high-spirited, eye patch–sporting donkey that grins, winks, farts, and clumps its way through the song on a prosthetic metal hoof in Cowley’s informal watercolors supplies comical visual flourishes for the silly wordplay. Look for ready guffaws from young audiences, whether read or sung, though those attuned to disability stereotypes may find themselves wincing instead or as well.

Hee haw. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-26124-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2018

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A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Is it a stormy-night scare or a bedtime book? Both!

Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are heading home when a storm lets loose. Before long, their familiar, now very nervous barnyard friends (Goat, Hen, Goose, Cow, Duck, and Pig) squeeze into the garage. Blue explains that “clouds bump and tumble in the sky, / but here inside we’re warm and dry, / and all the thirsty plants below / will get a drink to help them grow!” The friends begin to relax. “Duck said, loud as he could quack it, / ‘THUNDER’S JUST A NOISY RACKET!’ ” In the quiet after the storm, the barnyard friends are sleepy, but the garage is not their home. “ ‘Beep!’ said Blue. ‘Just hop inside. / All aboard for the bedtime ride!’ ” Young readers will settle down for their own bedtimes as Blue and Toad drop each friend at home and bid them a good night before returning to the garage and their own beds. “Blue gave one small sleepy ‘Beep.’ / Then Little Blue Truck fell fast asleep.” Joseph’s rich nighttime-blue illustrations (done “in the style of [series co-creator] Jill McElmurry”) highlight the power of the storm and capture the still serenity that follows. Little Blue Truck has been chugging along since 2008, but there seems to be plenty of gas left in the tank.

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85213-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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