Hi! Welcome back to Newbery Pie. This week we’ll be looking at Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien.
Sara’s Review: Mrs. Frisby has a problem; her son Timothy is sick with pneumonia and unable to make the early Spring move to avoid Mr. Fitzgibbon’s plow. The solution comes from the Great Owl: go to the rats to have them move her house so that it is safe from the plow. As soon as she enters their rose bush, she discovers that they are no ordinary rats. Their leader, Nicodemus, tells Mrs. Frisby the story of their captivity at a research facility called NIMH, where they received injections that enhanced their intelligence and life span. He details their escape, temporary life at a mansion, arrival at the Fitzgibbons’ farm, and their eventual plan to survive without stealing from humans. Most shocking of all, Mrs. Frisby learns that her husband was at NIMH and that he died trying to drug Dragon, the Fitzgibbons’ cat. In order for the rats to move her house, Mrs. Frisby will also have to drug Dragon!
My favorite childhood book was Charlotte’s Web and if I had to choose my favorite as an adult, I would say The One and Only Ivan. Based on these titles, animal fantasy is obviously on my list of preferred genres. I love this book and enjoy it more every time I read it. As a mother I identify with Mrs. Frisby’s plight completely and find her brave and admirable.
Being the “old” one, I remember a 1980s animated film adaptation titled The Secret of NIMH. The screenplay writers glossed over the NIMH story and added a goofy amulet, but the characters were great, especially the shrew (renamed Auntie Shrew). My husband and I quote one of her lines all the time, [about Martin] “Cast not pearls before swine, I always say, and that includes impudent little piglets. Good day!”
I give Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH 5 pies.
Benji’s Review: I had never read this one before, and for some reason, I really struggled with it for the first few pages. It just reminded me a lot of the other talking animal books that we’ve already read on the Newbery trail, specifically Rabbit Hill. I had heard so many good things about it, so I knew that the whole book couldn’t be as dull as I was finding the beginning. It got a lot better, though, as it when on, especially once the sci-fi elements of the story got going. I specifically liked how as the rats became more human-like, they got caught up in the futility that is the pointless upgrading to nicer things without any real improvement to their quality of life. I liked the moral dilemma that they faced. They would never be really happy while they were living on stolen goods. They were going to have to go out and create resources for themselves to find any kind of satisfaction. (hmmm. I didn’t realize that this book could have a kind of conservative political message while I was reading it) Someday, I want to read the sequels to see if Mrs. Frisby’s children get mixed up with the Rats of NIMH in the future. The story seemed a bit unfinished to me once it was all over.
I give it 4 out of 5 Newbery Pies