Thursday, September 13, 2007

Sometimes Even the Smallest Mouse Can be Brave

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.

Title: Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
Author: Robert C. O'Brien
Series: Rats of NIMH, Book 1
Published: March 1, 1986
Publisher: Aladdin (Simon & Schuster)
Pages: 240
Genre: YA- Adventure, Animals

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.

Rats of NIMH Series
1. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH (1971), by Robert C. O'Brien
2. Racso and the Rats of NIMH (1986), by Jane Leslie Conly
3. R-T, Margaret, and the Rats of NIMH (1990), by Jane Leslie Conly

First Paragraph: Mrs. Frisby, the head of a family of field mice, lived in an underground house in the vegetable garden of a farmer named Mr. Fitzgibbon. It was a winter house, such as some field mice move to when food becomes too scarce, and the living too hard in the woods and pastures. In the soft earth of a bean, potato, black-eyed pea and asparagus patch there is plenty of food left over for mice after the human crop has been gathered.

Articles on Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH (including Robert O’ Brien’s Newbery acceptance speech)
Author Wikipedia
This is book part of the Newbery Award Challenge.

Source: Library loan, hardcover

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