Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH - Robert C. O'Brien

"The rats on Mr. Fitzgibbon's farm have—things—ways—you know nothing about. They are not like the rest of us. They are not, I think, even like most other rats..."

I vaguely remember seeing the movie "The Secret of NIMH" as a child, but (possibly because it didn't have the marketing muscle of Disney behind it) I don't remember a whole lot except for Mrs. Frisby with her red shawl, and some creepy-looking rats. (And I'm not even entirely sure the creepy-looking rats were from this movie.) Anyway, I'd never actually read the Newbery-winning book until now.

It's a superb story, with just the right mix of action, suspense, and cute talking animals. Mrs. Frisby is a widowed mouse with four young children and a dilemma: she has to move out of the Fitzgibbon garden before spring arrives and the field is plowed, but her youngest son Timothy is sick and may not survive the move. Eventually, through a series of events, she goes to the rats for help.

At that point, we get the story-within-a-story about the NIMH (which is never explicitly spelled out in the book), where the rats were test subjects. They were injected with some sort of chemical that Charlie from Flowers for Algernon would have been lucky to have had; through it they gain remarkable intelligence. I suppose that's a bit of a spoiler, but you probably could have guessed it from the title anyway.

The story might be a little scary yet for my 4-year-old, but I look forward to reading it to her when she's a little older. It's a very satisfying adventure, and Mrs. Frisby is a remarkable character herself. Without the advantages conferred by the mystery chemical, she nevertheless holds her own with the rats and manages some pretty sizeable feats. If, like me, you've heard of the story but never read the book, do yourself a favor and check it out.

Fed to jonathan's brain | February 19, 2008 | Comments (0)


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