HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Author: Beverly Cleary
Illustrator: Louis Darling
Publisher: HarperCollins, reissued in 2007
Language level: 1 (the term “doggoned” is used once)
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Ages 8 and up
Rating: **** 4 stars (GOOD)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Cleary, Beverly. Ribsy (published in 1964 by William Morrow and Company, New York City, NY). Henry Huggins, who was first introduced in 1950, has a dog named Ribsey. One day on a shopping trip, Ribsey becomes hopelessly lost in a huge mall parking lot, where it’s raining hard, the pavement is slick, horns are honking, and drivers are shouting. When Ribsy thinks he has found the Hugginses’ new station wagon at last, he jumps in the open tailgate window and falls asleep, exhausted. However, when he wakes up find himself in the wrong car, the four little Dingley girls pet him, take him home, and give him a violet-scented bubble bath. All Ribsy wants to do is go home to Henry, so he runs away, but that is only the beginning of the liveliest adventure of his life.
After being adopted by Mrs. Frawley, who names him Rags, gives him a red collar, and makes him entertain her club, he runs away again, this time to a two-story, red-brick school where he is made the mascot of Mrs. Sonchek’s second grade. But when there is trouble and he is sent away, he wanders into a high school football game where he is taken home by a boy named Joe Saylor, and when he escapes he ends up in an apartment house with a boy named Larry Biggerstaff. Ribsey has been gone from the Hugginses’ house on Klickitat Street for a month. Will he ever be found? Will he ever make it home? I read Henry Huggins back in 2004, and also remember reading Henry and Ribsey then but forgot that I read Ribsey at that time as well. I did not like Cleary’s Newbery Medal winning Dear Mr. Henshaw, but I enjoyed her books about Ralph S. Mouse and Ellen Tebbets.
The Henry Huggins books are all right, and truthfully I like Ribsey about the best of the ones that I have read. The books about Ramona Quimby, who is the sister of Henry’s friend Beezus, are also all right, though I don’t care as much for them, I suspect because they are written to appeal to girls while the Henry Huggins books are designed to appeal to boys. While many of these books use a lot of euphemisms, the only one in Ribsey is a single occurrence of the word “doggoned.” In the reprint edition of the book, the original classic illustrations by Louis Darling have been replaced, or at least supplemented, with more modern-style ones by Jacqueline Rogers and Tracy Dockray. As Cleary writes about things from Ribsy’s perspective, she presents some quirky and imaginative experiences that will keep children in suspense.