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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Book review: Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien

Mrs.Fisby, a widow (and a mouse), is living with her four young children snug in their winter home in the farmer's garden. Then her youngest boy becomes terribly ill, and spring arrives unexpectedly warm and early. If they don't move quickly to their summer home, their home will be plowed and they will all be killed. But if her sick boy is moved before he is well, he will die. Mrs. Frisby is desperate for a solution and thanks to some unlikely helpers, she is introduced to the rats of NIMH, and these rats are unlike any other rats. How will they solve Mrs. Frisby's dilemma? Why do they know her late husband? And how will she ever repay them?

I remembered that this book was very exciting, and that the ending was a little bit scary (I think I also saw the movie where the end was a little more scary than it is in the book because parts of the scary bits at the end are told, not shown, in the book. Which is appropriate for its age level so it's not too scary.) The debate of experimenting on lab rats and mice is still a hot topic, as is how and why we learn. Are animals as smart as people? Do rats serve a larger purpose in the world beyond spreading diseases? Can drugs make someone - or some rat - incredibly smart, and if so, is that necessarily a good thing? There are a lot of debatable topics in this book but aside from that, it's also just a good story, well-plotted with a sense of urgency from the start, and aside from a few necessary longish bits in the explanation of who the rats are, how they got that way, and how they came to be here on the farm, the book is pretty much action-packed throughout. I think it would be excellent for a reluctant middle reader, especially boys. Even though the main character is female, almost all of the rest of the characters are male, and there is a lot of excitement and action. A couple of times I wasn't even sure how they were going to get out of a particular predicament or around a tough obstacle. This book is just as fun a read now as when I was a kid!

This review is a part of Kid Konnection, hosted by Booking Mama, a collection of children's book-related posts over the weekend.

I borrowed this book from a friend.

1 comment:

Julie P. said...

Booking Daughter and I read this one for our Mother/Daughter book club a few years ago. I appreciated it more as an adult, but the opinion was definitely split in our group. Discussion was good though!