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Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
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Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH (Rats of NIMH #1)

4.12  ·  Rating Details ·  139,651 Ratings  ·  2,643 Reviews

Mrs. Frisby, a widowed mouse with four small children, must move her family to their summer quarters immediately, or face almost certain death. But her youngest son, Timothy, lies ill with pneumonia and must not be moved. Fortunately, she encounters the rats of NIMH, an extraordinary breed of highly intelligent creatures, who come up with a brilliant solution to her dilem
Mass Market Paperback, 268 pages
Published 1971 by Scholastic
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Wendy Darling
I am very fond of extraordinarily handsome rats. <3 Even better than I remembered, and now I have to read the sequel to find out what happened to everybody.

Reread for our monthly classics readalong--discussion on the blog this Friday!
Feb 27, 2008 Kirsten rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-pre-12-07, own
This was one of my all-time favorite books when I was a kid; I must've read it eight times. So I was pleased to find that it holds up well, and I still found it very entertaining (although it seemed a shorter). I did notice some things that I don't think really registered when I was younger. For one, I was thinking as I read that Mrs. Frisby is a pretty unusual character for a children's book. She's an adult, which is not common to children's novels; usually the protagonist is the same age or a ...more
Cathy (cathepsut)
I loved this book so much as a young teen, I read it over and over and over. This is probably the book that started me off on my lifelong love of fantasy, together with Watership Down.

I re-read this as part of my MacHalo Reading Challenge 2016, 4. Re-reading a childhood favourite.

The beginning was a little boring and the very traditional gender roles of the mice annoyed me a bit at first. But once Mrs. Frisby met the rats and they told her their story, the book picked up a lot. I had forgotten
Aug 29, 2007 Jessica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fivestars
This book captivated me from start to finish when I read it - for the first time - as an adult. It's such a beautiful story of courage and morality and heroism. It's hard to imagine anyone not being moved by "The Rats of Nimh" and its characters are well-developed and not easily forgotten. I thought about this book for days afterward, and I was sad when it ended.

There are really two stories going on at once; O'Brien cleverly brings the two together slowly by revealing their connection detail by
Feb 20, 2012 Kate rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

1. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH mostly takes its place in Mr.Fitzgibbon farm. Mrs. Frisby who is a widow has 4 children. One day, one of her brightest kid Timothy becomes sick. The plowing was soon starting, but Timothy couldn't move out of his bed. Even after eating the medicine Mr. Ages gave, Timothy had a big chance that pneumonia will recur. That is when Mrs. Frisby started to find ways they could move without getting Timothy sick again. She went to her neigh
BAM The Bibliomaniac
How is it these rats can illuminate their entire underground nest with Christmas lights, but every year thousands of Americans cannot decorate their trees???
Stefan Yates
This is a book that I had fond memories of from originally reading it in the 4th grade. I was considering buying it as a gift for my niece, who's that age, so I thought that I should read it again myself first. Naturally, I was a bit concerned that my memory of the book would be let down by the passage of time. Thankfully, I was wrong.

This is a great story full of memorable characters and plenty of adventure that keeps the pages turning. Children and adults alike will enjoy this award-winning no
Mar 29, 2011 Michelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I suggested this book to my stepdaughter. She read a few pages and declared it to be boring. Oof, shot right to the heart. I loved this book when I was kid. LOVED. I reread it to try to figure out if there was something wrong with me, with her, or with this book.

Decision--nothing wrong with any of us. I read the first few pages and realized why this doesn't appeal to her. It's a bit of a slow start and, my apologies to kids these days, I don't think most kids these days have the same level of p
I think it was my second-grade teacher who read this to us in class, like a chapter a day, or something.
I was so into this book, I made my mom take me to the library where I checked it out so I could read ahead to find out what was coming. But I didn't want the entire thing spoiled, so I only read a chapter ahead.
In fifth grade, this was available through RIF and I remember seeing the copy on the folding table among all the many other free books. I snatched it up so fast, grabbing up from under
Feb 08, 2016 Jessa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was always one of my favorite movies as a child, though I still love it now, and I was very excited to read the book. I wasn't disappointed. This book was thoroughly entertaining and extremely amusing. I loved it from the very beginning. Mrs. Frisby and her family were loving, resourceful, and easy to like. I loved reading about the rats and their adventures

This was a wonderful story about heroism and courage and it will worm it's way into your heart. The story is very well written and the
Oct 02, 2011 Elika rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childhood-reads
I forgot how much I love this book. I was a little nervous re-reading it because I hadn't read it since I was a kid and I was worried that it wouldn't hold up well, but I needn't have worried. The book is just as wonderful now as it was then.

One of the things I find very interesting now is the way that humans are portrayed. Not bad or good, but just very human. Going about their lives not really appreciating how they affect everything around them. But also not entirely clueless.

This book will al
Ty Melgren
Sep 15, 2010 Ty Melgren rated it really liked it
A lot like Watership Down but slightly less important and infinitely easier to finish. It's probably been ten years since the last time I read this which is weird to think about. If you live in Springfield, I'm starting a book club and this is the first book we're reading; come to the downtown library tomorrow evening if you wanna be in it. You don't have to have a copy or have started reading it yet.
Feb 19, 2015 Brenda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Brenda by: Read-along with The Midnight Garden
The story had a slow beginning for me, but then it really picked up. Although the central theme was on Mrs. Frisby's struggle to relocate her home, there was also this larger backstory on how the rats of NIMH became so intelligent and their connection to Mrs. Frisby's family that I really got caught up in. I was a little disappointed though whenever Mrs. Frisby's story took to the backburner. Mrs. Frisby is such an admirable, brave character. She puts herself in harms way to save her children, j ...more
Emily Beeson
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh by Robert C. O'Brien

I picked this book up at a yard sale a while back, and it was promptly shelved. Hesitant to read it to my kids, there it sat. The hesitance stemmed from my memories of the rather creepy movie version I used to watch as a kid.

I was wrong to wait. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH is a delightful story, full of mystery, adventure, science, and compassion. In short, we loved this Newbery Award winning classic.

Mrs. Frisby may be just a little mouse
Nov 09, 2014 Conrad rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was taken aback at how involved I became in the story of Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. From page two, I accepted the short brisk writing style of O’Brien and went with these mice on their long and taxing journey. I thought Mrs. Frisby was, at first, a bit too simple of a character but as the story progressed you certainly find more depth. I found the illustrations to be gorgeously drawn and the climax of the novel perfectly executed. With the many childrens books I’ve read, this is definit ...more
Davis Dunavin
Feb 19, 2012 Davis Dunavin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Will I ever find a talking animal book to equal "Watership Down"? Doubtful. And that's okay.

But in my latest jaunts through the great kid lit of the 20th century, "Mrs. Frisby" is a standout. O'Brien sets up a talking-animal world with what seem at first some loose conventions, and while his young audience may not notice, the genre-savvy reader immediately notices something is up. Mrs. Frisby and her family can read? They can use medicine? Heck, they know what a postcard is? Then O'Bri
Emilia P
Mar 30, 2013 Emilia P rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So this book is about 1) how great the love of a mom is, 2) the evils of technology, and 3)Excellent animal names. I mean..Mr. Ages? Nicodemus? Word.
I realized I've been really enjoying stories of overly evolved animals, because I currently have a wonderful little animal evolving into a person in my life right now, so the whole rats in the lab story was great -- also, the story within the story business was so well done. I really like the complex but straightforward way that O'Brien wea
Though it lacks the eloquence and pathos of classic anthropomorphic animal stories (Charlotte's Web and Wind in the Willows) this is still a great story of heroism and sacrificial love. Since it is told simply and well, it might be a good option for a reluctant young reader.
Jan 17, 2015 Joey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-library
Great book. I unfortunately watched the movie first which mostly ruined Robert C. O'Brien's story so don't waste your time with the movie. This is a wonderful book that I will one day move from my bookcase to my son's bookcase when he's old enough to read. Easy 5 star.
Kristi Lamont
Aug 05, 2013 Kristi Lamont rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not sure how I managed to get to almost 50 without reading this classic children's book. In a way, though, I'm glad I did; I was able to appreciate its marvelousness on all levels as a result!
Feb 25, 2012 Aldi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Random childhood favourite reread. Still good stuff.
Jul 14, 2012 Jason rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anybody
Recommended to Jason by: Me/Movie
Shelves: child-lit, 2012
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Shoshana G
I'm enjoying this - I never read it as a child. But some of the sexism is jarring! Mrs. Frisby doesn't get a first name - she's Mrs. Jonathan Frisby, and she's told that some things are no job for a lady! I know these details were culturally appropriate at the time, but they're definitely off-putting when reading it now. The world building was cool and I think the story holds up well- except for the sexism.
Just read this book with my four-year-old son. It's hard to know what percentage he understood, but as long as he is still interested and asks me to read another chapter then I keep going and don't worry too much about comprehension since I figure it develops by reading and discussing. He was even more motivated to read it when we picked up the movie (The Secret of NIMH) from the library and I told him we could watch it after we finished reading the book.

I know I've read the book before, but I d
Sep 13, 2016 Marie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook, childrens
Delightful children's novel, full of brave and highly intelligent anthropomorphic characters. I only wish I had read it as a child!
Papia aziz
Mar 24, 2010 Papia aziz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book!!It's a fiction book and it's about rats! Mrs.Frisby a widow have four children and one day Timothy gets pneumonia. She goes to Mr.Ages which he gives frisby some medicine. But Mrs.Frisby heard that spring is coming and the humans will plow their house down. But timothy cant walk because he's sick. Mr.ages takes frisby to a owl and the owl tells mrs.Frisby to go to the rats. That's when she encounters with the intelligent rats. They live in a place that a human lives. The rats ...more
Feb 04, 2017 jandjsalmon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a favourite cartoon of mine as a child, and for my daughter's "One Book. One School" project, we got to read it aloud every night (along with every other child at the elementary school).

We both got emotional at the very end and found the open ending very unsatisfactory. Bethy says this book was "suspenseful, sad at parts, and really awesome." She rated it 5 stars. Just wait until we watch the cartoon and she sees how much they changed. lol.
Amanda Cook
Jun 19, 2007 Amanda Cook rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
ETA: After a reread as an adult, I found this book still holds up. It's a classic, but I think today's children would enjoy it as much as my generation did. (I know my oldest son liked it.) Also as an adult, I discovered subtleties I wouldn't have as a child, the allusion to the "Rat Race" in particular. It really is a brilliant piece of writing.

Original Review: This was one of my favorite books as a kid. I loved the journey Mrs. Frisby took to save her sick little son. The movie was great, too,
Sep 11, 2015 Becky rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children
Towards the end of the school year, my fourth grade teacher started reading this book to the class after afternoon recess — one chapter each day. Then, just as the plot started to ramp up and get really interesting....the school year ended. We didn't finish the book. And, of course, by the time I got to the public library to check it out, one of my classmates must have beaten me to it.

And then 20 YEARS went by.

That is a really long time to not know how a book ends.

Perhaps it was my teacher's
Another children's classic I missed...Since RABBIT HILL was one of my favorite books when I was a kid, I fell right into this story of mice and rats who speak and read. Funny how the cat, Dragon doesn't seem as bright.

Mrs. Frisby is dealing with so much...the loss of her beloved husband, Jonathan, the illness of her youngest child, and the upcoming destruction of her cozy winter home by the farmer who will plow up the field where her cinder-block home rests.

She begins a strange, dangerous journe
Sep 21, 2016 Jo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I watched the movie based on the book a thousand times as a child (The Secret of NIMH). The book was similar in many ways and very different in others.
The book was missing the action sequences and the magic that was in the movie. There was no magic necklace or last minute knife throws to save a life.
What the book did have was more humanity. The hopes and loves and tragedy of their lives. The book was moving and thought provoking.
I am so glad I read it.
V. Gingerich
Story begins nicely, goes into (fascinating) back story for most of the book, comes back to present and ends spectacularly. Love it in spite of it all. Students love it, too.

I remember the first time I read it, or rather, my teacher read it to me. He said, "You'll never, ever look at rats the same way again."

Susie Finkbeiner
My kids enjoyed this one. It's slow moving, so if kids are used to flashy, quick stories, they might be surprised by this one. Most of it is backstory and I would have loved for the NIMH part to be a different book because it really could have been fleshed out more. However, this was written at a time when this was common for kids books.

Aug 09, 2016 The_poor_mouth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The great thing about NIMH is how it disturbing it is to young and old. As a child my mother read me The Wind In The Willows, which has some funny moments that have staled as an adult (except for a slight aftertaste of nostalgia) and I can't stand to see the Pooh books applauded anywhere after watching supposedly Taoist modern business leaders take inspiration from Piglet. By contrast, there is nothing funny about the rat cult leader named Nicodemus. He is smarter than you, and he is organized. ...more
Wendy Bousfield
Feb 17, 2015 Wendy Bousfield rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Wendy by: Michele

This YA story of sentient animals is a gem! Mrs. Frisby, a field mouse, lives with her four children on the prosperous farm of Mr. Fitzgibbon. During the winter, the family lives in a cinderblock in a field. Just before the Fitzgibbons plow the field in preparation for spring planting, the mouse family moves to their summer home on a stream bank. A crisis arises the Frisbys’ cozy, predictable lives when Timothy, the youngest son, contracts pneumonia. Even though Mr. Ages, a white mouse doctor, p
Dec 29, 2014 Tess rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I adore this book.
Jackie B. Forman
A unique and memorable story about rats who were once tested upon trying to make a life for themselves. I feel like I have much to reflect upon before I can begin to understand more than just the surface ideals of this book. But, that's probably why it won the Newbery.

Full review to follow.
Heather Gunnell
Staff Pick

I grew up watching the move based on this classic tale. I finally read the novel a few years ago, and while there are plenty of differences from the movie, I was still enchanted by the story. Check out this story of clever rodents today.
Oct 18, 2015 Lydia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A friend of mine gave me this story when I was quite little and said it was her favourite story as a child.

I read it and really enjoyed it, even though I was a little bit old for it. It has somewhat of a C.S. Lewis feel to it. It's quite accessible and Mrs. Frisby is a great character. A single mother, with four kids, just trying to make her way through life and do the best for her tiny babies. c:

I think this is a really good adventure story, even though I was a little bit older, I found it rea
Jan 22, 2016 Joy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A widowed mouse, Mrs. Frisby, with for small children, must move her family to their summer house immediately, or get crumbled in the garden soil. But Timothy, her youngest son, is ill and must not move until the weather gets warm. Fortunately, she meets the rats of NIMH, an extraordinary group of highly intelligent rats, who help her moving the house.
I rated this book 4 out of 5 because I really enjoyed this book except for the ending. I thought Mrs. Frisby and her children would meet the rats
Feb 07, 2016 RachelWilliams rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Suya Trenkel
This may seem like a child's book when you first start reading it, but the story is far more complicated then that.
Because of this book I don't think of rats in the same way.
Very charming. I enjoyed this immensely. The epilogue is unfortunately unsatisfactory, but I can deal with it.
Book summary: Mrs. Frisby is a widowed head of a family field of mice. Her son Timothy is ill and wont survive the move they need to make because spring plowing is about to be done in the garden that they live in. She ends up saving the life of a crow from the farmers cat which is the same cat that killed her husband. The crow suggests he go to an owl for help but the owl declines and Mrs. Frisby finds out that rats have a mechanized society. The experiments that we done to them in NIMH made the ...more
Paige Bailey
Jun 10, 2016 Paige Bailey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Robert Leslie Conly (better known by his pen name, Robert C. O'Brien) was an American author and journalist for National Geographic Magazine.

For more complete information on this author, please see:
More about Robert C. O'Brien...

Other Books in the Series

Rats of NIMH (3 books)
  • Racso and the Rats of NIMH
  • R-T, Margaret, and the Rats of NIMH

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“When you’ve lived in a cage, you can’t bear not to run, even if what you’re running towards is an illusion.” 9 likes
“I have lived in this tree, in this same hollow," the owl said, "for more years than anyone can remember. But now, when the wind blows hard in winter and rocks the forest, I sit here in the dark, and from deep down in the bole, near the roots, I hear a new sound. It is the sound of strands of wood creaking in the cold and snapping one by one. The limbs are falling; the tree is old, and it is dying. Yet I cannot bring myself, after so many years, to leave, to find a new home and move into it, perhaps to fight for it. I, too, have grown old. One of these days, one of these years, the tree will fall, and when it does, if I am still alive, I will fall with it.” 0 likes
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