Since the death of beloved children's author Beverly Cleary, the Internet has been flooded with appreciations and reminiscences of her Ramona books. I am all for it, but when I think about Beverly Cleary, I think about The Mouse and the Motorcycle trilogy and Ribsy, and they aren't getting enough love.
I began reading Beverly Cleary books when my mother told me that she liked them when she was a little girl. I can still remember exactly where they were in my school library- on the left, on the very top shelf. I read everything that the school library had, which took awhile, and checked them out at the public library, too.
I know that I read all the Ramona books, all the Beezus and Henry books, and everything else that Cleary wrote except Dear Mr. Henshaw and Strider (why wouldn't I ever read these?) but I don't remember the other Cleary books very well. I had completely forgotten about Mitch and Amy and Otis Spofford, even after reading the synopsis, I don't remember reading them as a child, I just remember the titles. I don't remember many details of the Ramona books, but when others share their favorite moments, they are familiar. Oh, right, the egg. Oh, right, guts. It comes back.
Ribsy, in case anyone doesn't remember, is the dog taken in by Henry Huggins. He was named Ribsy because his ribs showed, if I'm remembering correctly. In Ribsy, he gets lost and goes off on adventures without Henry. I loved dogs as a child (still do), so a whole book about the dog was a treat. I still remember so clearly the illustration of poor Ribsy being given a bubble bath by the well-meaning family he went home with when he was lost. It was a black-and-white drawing, the page full of floating bubbles, with Ribsy splashing in the middle of it with a completely panicked expression on his face.
I kind of hate it when my old favorites are given new illustrations and covers, but I'm sure that the publishers have good reason. The new covers are cute, and maybe they are more appealing to kids. I don't know what the inside illustrations look like.
The Mouse and the Motorcycle is an awesome book. The mouse is named Ralph, and he lives in a hotel. He sees a little boy there playing with a toy motorcycle, and Ralph is so taken with the motorcycle that he plays with it himself when he finds it left behind in the room. I was so excited when he tried it out and realized that it was the perfect fit for him, and then when he realized that he could make it go by saying vroom-vroom... It was magical. I was breathless. I liked this one better than the Ramona and Beezus books, even better than Ribsy. The second and third Ralph books are Runaway Ralph and Ralph S. Mouse.
Vroom-vroom, Beverly Cleary. Thanks for all the books.