Melissa's Reviews > Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien
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Oct 25, 11

bookshelves: junior-chapter
Read in October, 2011

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
By: Robert C. O'Brien
Illustrated by: Zena Bernstein

Genre: Fantasy

Mrs. Frisby, a recently widowed mom of 4 mice, would love nothing more than to keep her son, who has recently come down with pneumonia, warm and safe but Moving Day is soon arriving. She employs the help of many unusual animals around the Fitzgibbon's farm: a crow, an owl, a family of unusually smart rats, and other mice. The story is completely fantasy-based with some realistic problems. The determination and love felt by Mrs. Frisby is great and proves to be what is needed to keep her family together.

Critique:
A. The humanistic characteristics given to the animals in this story are amazing. The names also provide some insight into the characters and the story.
B. Animals communicate with each other in a way that humans cannot always decipher. I have no doubt that the animals in the wilderness have an extraordinary amount of respect for each other. While I doubt that a mouse would have sought the advice of an owl, the communication is real. I was a little disappointed in the fact that the author never revealed what NIMH stood for or what happened to the rats after they moved. A sequel may have been an excellent way to sum up this information. Humans can barter, steal or pay for goods and services. The animals in this story acted just like humans. They worked together in their own little communities.
The story even included a doctor. What story wouldn't be complete without a way for the sick to be cured?
C. The name given to this doctor is cute: Mr. Ages. It is as if his name gives all insight needed into his character. He is an older mouse but wise. He is also white, unlike that of the other mice on Mr. Fitzgibbon's farm. The color white can signify a few things: Peaceful, gentleness or age (old).
The names given to the rats are also significant. Nicodemus is the insightful, intelligent, and leader quality rat in the rat community. When I see the name "Nicodemus" I think of scientist, leader, genius and the like. Mrs. Frisby's children all had normal names: Cynthia, Martin, Teresa and Timothy. When I read of Timothy, I think of "Little Timmy" from the Scrooge. Little Timmy was sickly and weak in the Scrooge and he is in this story as well. The cat's name is Dragon. That sounds ferocious and befitting for a cat in a mouse's eyes. Another rat's name is Brutus. That sounds muscular and strong. And that is the characteristics that "Brutus" portrayed in the story.
The rats had running water and electricity. They were hiding out from the doctors at NIMH. It's like they are escaped prisoners that are constantly looking over their shoulder for fear of being captured or discovered. Indeed, these rats were far more intelligent than any rat I have ever come across. The animals in the story live as the humans do. They have beds, they search for food, and they get sick as humans do.

Curriculum Connection:
This is a great novel for students to read. I would use the novel in my English class for fifth graders. Trelease states that the book is acceptable for fourth through sixth graders but I think it may be a bit complex for some fourth graders. I was also very surprised to find the amount of study guides and curriculum connection guides that are found on the internet for this novel.
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Janine It's not mentioned in the book but NIMH stands for the National Institute of Mental Health, the facility where they conducted experiments on the rats.


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