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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An unabashed love letter from mother.

I LOVE YOU, LITTLE POOKIE

From the Little Pookie series

A sweet celebration of the bond between a mother and her Pookie.

The eighth installment in this always charming series eschews the episodic drama and silliness of earlier outing such as Spooky Pookie (2015) in favor of a mom’s-eye-view celebration of her child and the time they spend together. There is, of course, nothing wrong with drama and silliness. But while the lack of conflict and plot in favor of unapologetic sentiment makes this book a quick read, that doesn’t make it any less endearing. The rhymed verse captures a mother’s wonder as she observes the many facets of her child’s personality: “Ah, Pookie. My little one. My funny one. My child. // Sometimes you are quiet. Sometimes you are wild.” On the simple joys of shared moments, she notes, “I love to go walking with you by my side. / I love when we sing when we go for a ride. // And I love just to watch as you think and you play. / The way that you are is a wonderful way.” Paired with author/illustrator Boynton’s irresistible renderings of a porcine mommy and her playful, snuggly little piglet, the result is impossible to fault. Whether quietly reading, running in a tiger suit, singing with mom in the car, ears flapping in the breeze, or enjoying the safety of mom’s embrace, Pookie’s appeal continues unabated.

An unabashed love letter from mother. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3723-4

Page Count: 18

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TERRIFYING RETURN OF TIPPY TINKLETROUSERS

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 9

Sure signs that the creative wells are running dry at last, the Captain’s ninth, overstuffed outing both recycles a villain (see Book 4) and offers trendy anti-bullying wish fulfillment.

Not that there aren’t pranks and envelope-pushing quips aplenty. To start, in an alternate ending to the previous episode, Principal Krupp ends up in prison (“…a lot like being a student at Jerome Horwitz Elementary School, except that the prison had better funding”). There, he witnesses fellow inmate Tippy Tinkletrousers (aka Professor Poopypants) escape in a giant Robo-Suit (later reduced to time-traveling trousers). The villain sets off after George and Harold, who are in juvie (“not much different from our old school…except that they have library books here.”). Cut to five years previous, in a prequel to the whole series. George and Harold link up in kindergarten to reduce a quartet of vicious bullies to giggling insanity with a relentless series of pranks involving shaving cream, spiders, effeminate spoof text messages and friendship bracelets. Pilkey tucks both topical jokes and bathroom humor into the cartoon art, and ups the narrative’s lexical ante with terms like “pharmaceuticals” and “theatrical flair.” Unfortunately, the bullies’ sad fates force Krupp to resign, so he’s not around to save the Earth from being destroyed later on by Talking Toilets and other invaders…

Is this the end? Well, no…the series will stagger on through at least one more scheduled sequel. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-17534-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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