Thursday, November 15th, 2007
Maybe you remember Beverly Cleary books from the ’60s. I don’t. I read comics, Hardy Boys, and other things I can’t remember in the early ’70s. My son has gone positively ape over Ralph S. Mouse and Henry and Ribsy, partially due to the quality of the storytelling and to the way Cleary writes for performance reading. She has an amazing ear for the oral quality of storytelling. Cleary refines the art of closing at energetic plot points that makes for the wonderful explosion of screams for more and “What’s going to happen to Ralph?”
Even better is the agreement she makes with the reader, young and old: mice are cute, but good storytelling demands edge. In Ralph’s world, the tension is palpable, the danger and dramatic challenges aggressive and unexpected.
Wonderful stuff and refreshing in a time of cute and bland fluff that generally treats children as brainless and provides them no basis for evaluating excellence from mediocrity.