Book review

Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C O'Brien (1971)

It's a story about mice and rats - but they're very human little things.

Mrs Frisby is having a worrying time bringing up her young family since she lost her husband. Her youngest, Timothy, is a bit of a weakling and falls rather seriously ill just at the beginning of spring. This is bad timing because in the spring the mice have to leave their winter home in the vegetable garden, and go to live in the woods well away from all the human activity. So what can Mrs Frisby do when she realizes that Timothy is not well enough to move?

Well, first of all she seeks the advice of the wise old owl. This involves a hair-raising flight on the back of a crow, straight to the owl's home in the trunk of an old tree in the woods. It's a bit of a nerve-wracking visit because mice are, after all, known to be a tasty tit-bit for a hungry owl. The owl advises Mrs Frisby to seek the help of the rats.

Now, the rats who live under the old rose bush are a very special breed of rat. Mrs Frisby can see that as soon as she is allowed into their hole. These rats, they have electric lights and lifts and they teach their young to read! To her surprise, they seem perfectly willing to help her with her problem - they'll simply move the whole concrete block that the Frisby family live in, to a more suitable place. The only thing is, Mrs Frisby can't understand why the rats should go to any trouble at all to help her.

It's out of loyalty to her dead husband, Jonathan Frisby. Actually, it seems that the rats knew Jonathan better than Mrs Frisby did herself. What is the great secret of the rats of NIMH? You'll only find out if you read the book because I'm not going to tell you. But it is a great adventure.

What can I read next?

If you enjoy this book you will be pleased to know that there are two more books about the adventures of the Rats of NIMH. They weren't written by Robert C O'Brien. They were written by his daughter Jane Leslie Conly, but don't let that put you off! Have a look at:

  • Rasco and the Rats of NIMH
  • RT, Margaret and the Rats of NIMH

If it's the rats that you like, you might enjoy this one by Alan Temperley:

Or this bit of fun by Philip Pullman:

Also any books by Stephen Elboz might interest you:

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