Author: Robert C. O'Brien
Genre: Children's Fantasy
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Caution: May contain spoilers
There's something very strange about the rats living under the rosebush at the Fitzgibbon farm. But Mrs. Frisby, a widowed mouse with a sick child, is in dire straits and must turn to these exceptional creatures for assistance. Soon she finds herself flying on the back of a crow, slipping sleeping powder into a ferocious cat's dinner dish, and helping 108 brilliant, laboratory-enhanced rats escape to a utopian civilization of their own design, no longer to live "on the edge of somebody else's, like fleas on a dog's back."
This unusual novel, winner of the Newbery Medal (among a host of other accolades) snags the reader on page one and reels in steadily all the way through to the exhilarating conclusion. Robert O'Brien has created a small but complete world in which a mother's concern for her son overpowers her fear of all her natural enemies and allows her to make some extraordinary discoveries along the way. O'Brien's incredible tale, along with Zena Bernstein's appealing ink drawings, ensures that readers will never again look at alley rats and field mice in the same way.
I read this back when I was still in school and it was, by far, one of my favorite childhood reads. I read it multiple times. Before I even reread it this year, I could remember the story like it was yesterday. It's amazing how certain things just stick with you like that.
The story of the rats of NIMH, their journey past and present, is one that cannot be matched. The world building alone is phenomenal. Like the synopsis says, it is an unusual novel, but that's what makes it so amazing. A group of rats that escaped the National Institute of Mental Health with exceptional intelligence? Insane. And how Mrs. Frisby fits into the story of the rats is nothing short of brilliantly played. I felt as if I was walking through it as Mrs. Frisby herself. Learning all these things about her late husband's ties to the rats and learning how to find the strength within herself to do what needs to be done.
The details contained within describing the surroundings were so vivid. I could picture all the different rooms and halls the rats built in my mind. The background of the rats gets told by Nicodemus to Mrs. Frisby to explain how they knew her husband and how it was possible for them to do what they do. I always loved that part of the story. And Justin, one of the rats. How is it possible that his personality is just so lovable?
Mrs. Frisby And The Rats Of NIMH is, in my opinion, one of the greatest stories written. I absolutely adored it, even more so now. As I was reading it, I couldn't help but feel like I was transported back to my childhood, sitting there with my eyes glued to the page in wonder and joy. What's amazing is that it's not just the story itself, it's also the emotions tied to it that make it all the more powerful. The book is much better than the movie, even though I still love the movie (I'll be reviewing the movie tomorrow). If you're ever in the need for a great chapter book to make you feel like a kid again, this is absolutely the one you need to pick up.