Thursday, September 13, 2007

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH- 1972

Mrs. Frisby was a mouse whose husband, Jonathan, was dead. And so, when she had a serious problem, she had no one to turn to for help. That is she had no one until a friendly crow took her to a wise old owl, a frightening creature for a mouse to visit. Then at the owl’s suggestion, she went to visit the rats who lived under the rosebush. This, too, was a daring undertaking. The rats were an odd and unknown lot. Everyone on Mr. Fitzgibbon’s farm knew the rats did strange things.

Yet nothing Mrs. Frisby had heard of the rats was as strange as the truths she discovered about them, and also about her dead husband. Neither these rats nor her husband were ordinary creatures. All had been imprisoned for several years in a laboratory known as NIMH, where various injections had made them wise, long-lived, and inventive. The rats were indeed able to help Mrs. Frisby. And she in turn rendered them a great service.

As to the end of the story: Mrs. Frisby had her problem solved. But the rats, well that’s something else again.

In 1972, a John Newbery Medal (prestigious award for children’s books) winner was chosen and it was Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH written by Robert C. O’Brien and illustrated by Zena Bernstein. I’ve never had an affinity for rats or mice (hamsters are another story) but O’Brien makes you look past the fact that you’re reading about some of the most hated and feared creatures on our planet. Maybe because they are anthropomorphized or maybe just because they are animals, either way, I still enjoyed the book and its amazing little characters.

This fabulous children’s book went on to be made into the animated feature The Secret of NIMH which; although a spectacular movie in its own right, only vaguely follows the basic storyline. For example: in the movie Jennar is an evil, conniving rat who doesn’t want to move to Thorn Valley but in the book he is Nicodemus’ childhood friend who refuses to move to Thorn Valley and sets off with his own followers. The reader never even meets him except through others memories.

~ After Mr. O’Brien died, his daughter
Jane Leslie Conly continued the Rats of NIMH series with Rasco and the Rats of NIMH & R-T, Margaret, and the Rats of NIMH.

Articles on Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH (including Robert O’ Brien’s Newbery acceptance speech)
Wikipedia Entry
See original post on my blog


Linda Martin said...

Thanks for telling us about the book - I now am looking forward to reading it! It sounds much better than what I expected.

Anonymous said...

My son had to read a newberry award winning book for a book report for 6th grade and I helped him choose this book because I thought he would enjoy the story. He absolutely loved reading it, which made working on the 10 pg book report much easier. I would def. recommend this book for children who need a book that will capture their imagination and keep their interest. Some books can be a little to difficult which can lead to them losing their focus. This was a gem and I absolutely recommend this! Enjoy :)

jake said...

the book is ok