Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Rats of NIMH #1

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH

Rate this book
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 dilemma.

240 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1971

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Robert C. O'Brien

6 books234 followers
Robert Leslie Conly (better known by his pen name, Robert C. O'Brien) was an American author and journalist for National Geographic Magazine. His daughter is author Jane Leslie Conly.

For more complete information on this author, please see:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_...

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
74,569 (42%)
4 stars
61,257 (35%)
3 stars
30,001 (17%)
2 stars
5,471 (3%)
1 star
2,134 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,254 reviews
Profile Image for Julie G .
857 reviews2,630 followers
April 20, 2021
We live just three houses down from a farm, so we frequently have the pleasure of hearing a goat bleat or having a curious horse reach their head over the fence for a quick nuzzle. We also have the occasional misfortune of horse-flies in the summertime and the rare autumn visit of a mouse who makes it past the notice of our savage (and somehow still fabulous) cat.

When this happens, when a mouse runs past my foot while out in the yard, or, Heaven forbid, comes anywhere near the structure of our house, my screams often sound like the sound effects from the famous shower scene from Psycho.

I understand that it is illogical and irrational that a creature so small should provoke such terror in me, but it's true.

(Don't even get me started on the topic of rats. I'd rather face a Tyrannosaurus rex than a rat, and I'm not kidding).

And now. . . here I am. . . because of another exceptional narrative and fabulous three-dimensional characters. . . loving a devoted mouse mother, Mrs. Frisby, and her pack of clever, genetically modified rat friends.

What's wrong with me? Am I misanthropic?

Why do I always prefer small colonies of animals in fiction and wish for them to take over the world?
Profile Image for Kirsten.
2,115 reviews85 followers
February 27, 2008
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 couple years older than the intended audience. And she definitely thinks like an adult; she notices things like how young Justin seems, worries about taking care of her family, misses her husband. It's kind of cool.

The other thing I noticed was just how few female characters there are in the book. There's Mrs. Frisby and her daughters, Auntie Shrew, Isabella (a young rat Mrs. Frisby meets in the library), and that's really about it. Justin and Nicodemus make reference to "the wives," who are certainly shown as capable and industrious, but don't really have a part to play in the book. This lack is somewhat counterbalanced by what a brave and strong character Mrs. Frisby is -- but it DID annoy me that she didn't even get a first name. "Mrs. Jonathan Frisby," indeed. It's not enough to make me give the book a lower score, but I found it a little irksome. I don't think it really mattered to me too much as a kid, though; mostly I think I had a huge crush on Justin. :)
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,568 reviews55.5k followers
October 4, 2020
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH (Rats of NIMH #1), Robert C. O'Brien

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH is a 1971 children's book by Robert C. O'Brien. the story was adapted for film in 1982 as The Secret of NIMH.

Mrs. Frisby is the head of a family of field mice. Her son Timothy is ill with pneumonia just as the farmer Mr. Fitzgibbon begins preparation for spring plowing in the garden where the Frisby family lives.

Normally she would move her family, but Timothy would not survive the cold trip to their summer home.

Mrs. Frisby obtains medicine from her friend Mr. Ages, an older white mouse. On the return journey, she saves the life of Jeremy, a young crow, from Dragon, the farmer's cat– the same cat who killed her husband, Jonathan.

Jeremy suggests she seek help in moving Timothy from an owl who dwells in the forest. Jeremy flies Mrs. Frisby to the owl's tree, but the owl says he cannot help, until he finds out that she is the widow of Jonathan Frisby. He suggests that Mrs. Frisby seek help from the rats who live in a rosebush near her. ...

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز بیست و نهم ماه اکتبر سال 2017میلادی

عنوان: خانم فریزبی و موش‌های صحرایی؛ نویسنده: رابرت سی اوبراین؛ تصویرگر زنا برن اشتاین؛ مترجم: نگار شاطریان؛ تهران: انتشارات دنیای اقتصاد، کتابهای دارکوب‏‫، 1395؛ در 255ص؛ مصور، شابک 9786008004639؛ موضوع داستانهای نوجوانان از نویسندگان ایالات متحده آمریکا - سده 20م‬‬

عنوان: خانم فریزبی؛ نویسنده رابرت سی. اوبراین ؛ مترجم: پرستو پورگیلانی ؛ ویراستار: فرزین سوری؛ تهران پیدایش، ‏‫1398؛ در 328ص؛ شابک 9786222440176؛‬

زمستان به سر آمده، و روز شخمزنی مزرعه نزدیک است؛ «خانم فریزبی» و چهار بچه موشش، که خانه شان در همان مزرعه است، چاره ای ندارند جز اینکه، همانند هر سال، از مزرعه اسباب کشی کنند؛ چون یکی از همین روزها، سر و کله ی تراکتور صاحب مزرعه، پیدا میشود، و غرش کنان چنگک تیزش را، درون خاک میکشد، و گام به گام مزرعه را زیر و رو میکند؛ در آن روز هیچ حیوانی نمیتواند، از مزرعه جان سالم به در ببرد، و تمام خانه ها، و لانه های زمستانی، ویران میشوند؛ اما امسال مشکلی وجود دارد: پسر کوچک «خانم فریزبی» بیمار است؛ اگر در آن هوای سرد، اسباب کشی کنند، بدون شک او خواهد مرد، و اگر اسباب کشی نکنند، همگی جان خود را از دست میدهند؛ روز شخم زنی هر لحظه نزدیکتر میشود؛ تا اینکه «خانم فریزبی» با «موشهای صحرایی» آشنا میشود؛ موجوداتی مرموز، از نژادی خارق العاده، و با هوش بسیار بالا، و آنها راه حل بسیار خوبی برای مشکل او پیدا میکنند...؛

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 12/07/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Lisa.
971 reviews3,331 followers
May 9, 2019
Rats are the better humans maybe.

When I read this story aloud to students a few years ago, I remember thinking it is one of these crossover novels that speak to children and adults on different, but equally satisfying levels.

There is the human intrusion into the natural state of biology.

There is the inevitable fallout.

There is the fable.

There is the fantasy about community building.

There is the hardship and the there is the perseverance to deal with it.

There is good old adventure and storytelling.

What else can one ask of a children's book?

It also has RATS!
Profile Image for emma.
1,783 reviews42.8k followers
December 6, 2021
the very idea of a rodent: disgusting, debilitating, makes me want to perish

the concept of a colony of rats working together with a little old lady mouse to go on summer vacation: fantastic, whimsical, a childhood-defining masterpiece

this book was one of my mom's favorites when she was growing up, and i read her same copy when i was growing up, and that is a lovely adorable experience even to a cynical nightmarish grump like me.

part of a series in which i review books i read a long time ago with a veil of nostalgia and very little useful information
Profile Image for Zoë.
328 reviews66.4k followers
March 7, 2021
[Book #38 for my grad school Children's Lit class]
February 15, 2020
“When you’ve lived in a cage, you can’t bear not to run, even if what you’re running towards is an illusion.”

I grew up watching Don Bluth's animation movie The Secret of NIMH, and I had no idea this was a book. Then I found this little second-hand book on Amazon and I knew I had to read it! This story is just so much fun. I love those children's books told from the perspective of animals, because it really forces you to change your point of view when approaching a story (those poor mice really live every single day of their life avoiding to get killed! No wonder they get heart failure poor little creatures).

As I said, this book was a lot of fun bur honestly, I like the movie more. It might be because of Don Bluth's genius; but I also didn't like the illustrations in the book (all mice and rats look exactly the same) and I didn't think the author did such a great job imagining how a rat would think and act in this particular situation. I don't think I will go on with the series, but I still love this story because of childhood memories, so I can't help but rating this book so high. I have a soft heart ahah!

Profile Image for The Captain.
1,054 reviews349 followers
January 17, 2020
Ahoy there me mateys!  Here I take a second look at a previously enjoyed novel and give me crew me second reflections, as it were, upon visitin' it again . . .

In the last couple of days, I had to take a road journey and decided to listen to an audiobook on the way.  I wanted something I had previously read before and saw this one was available from the library.  The First Mate had never heard of it and I was appalled.  I adored the 1982 movie and the book when I was little but hadn't read or watched it in over a decade or more.  I got excited to revisit it.

Absolutely no disappointment here!  For those who don't know the story, Mrs. Frisby is a field mouse with four children.  Her son Timothy gets pneumonia and cannot be moved from their winter home.  The problem is that the farmer is about to plow the fields.  If Mrs. Frisby doesn't find a solution about what to do for Timothy then he will die.

When I was little I was mostly fascinated by the rats of NIMH and how they came to be.  While I still enjoyed that section, this time I was much more focused in Mrs. Frisby's journey and her kindness and determination.  She is just a regular mouse but her love is her strength and I was surprisingly very moved by her adventures.  It was also nice to revisit old friends like Justin and Jeremy.  I did think it was interesting that even in the world of rodents that the males held all the power and made all the decisions.  I didn't notice that as a child.  So it be even more extraordinary that a older widowed mother mouse is the hero.  I was more inclined to think the rats saved the day when I was little.  Now I know where the true strength lies.

I very much enjoyed the audiobook and thought Barbara Caruso did an excellent job with this one.  After listening to this I very much want to rewatch the movie.  I will wait until the First Mate and I are back together and order him to watch it with me.  Arrrr!

Side note: Goodreads listed this as a series and I was confused.  Turns out the author's daughter wrote two additional books in the series.  No offense but I like this book as a standalone!
Profile Image for Paul.
2,306 reviews20 followers
January 9, 2020
I approached this with the usual trepidation you get when going back to a childhood favourite after nearly four decades away... deep breath... but I needn’t have worried. This book is every bit as charming, moving and, let’s be honest, a teeny bit scary as I remembered. If you like an intelligently written children’s book that provides some food for thought, you could do a lot worse.

I can’t help but wonder if James Herbert read this before he wrote ‘The Rats’, though... brrr...
Profile Image for Cherisa B.
455 reviews36 followers
December 19, 2022
Surprisingly thoughtful book about education, ethics, community and obligations to ourselves, our family, our tribe, and the larger world. Even prejudice. Led to good conversations with my twin 10yo granddaughters, with whom I read it on a beach vacation. We all loved it.
Newbery winner, and rightly so.
Profile Image for Cathy.
1,582 reviews233 followers
December 8, 2020
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 a lot of the storyline. Some parts were pretty exciting, others emotional. There was drama, angst, a good plot, suspense... A nice rollercoaster.

In the end I liked the story so much that I wouldn't mind reading a sequel, to find out how the story continues for our heroes.
Profile Image for Erica.
1,293 reviews424 followers
February 25, 2015
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 my taller classmates, swiping like Swiper has never swiped. It was the movie edition which means it was the same story but with pictures from the Don Bluth film adaptation in middle. I adored that movie ("A sparkly!"), my family and I had seen it at the Drive-In and have been quoting it ever since.
I loved this book as it was read and as I read ahead. I loved it when I got it from the RIF table. I loved it every time I read it. It's deeper and more nuanced than the animated film, of course. Scarier, too. It's a wonderful story with some science, some mystery, and a lot of bravery.
Profile Image for Jessica.
34 reviews3 followers
October 22, 2007
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 detail through an absorbing flashback. The entire book's tone is one of being invited into a secret that only you, the reader, are accepted into. The science aspect is interesting and makes the animal characters even more realistic and memorable. I've read reviews about what the author's intention was, pointing to the various themes - from science playing with nature to self-determination to morality - present in the story. This ambiguity make "The Rats of Nimh" all the more interesting.
Profile Image for Brittany McCann.
1,464 reviews379 followers
August 27, 2022
This one was delightful. The age difference between myself and the target audience was not at all an issue for enjoyment. It felt like the Secret of Nimh movie I loved in my childhood, followed along with the main story. Mrs. Frisby makes me realize how many strong single mother figures I had in stories and entertainment as a child. I guess it helped shape my high view of them in my life now as a single mother.

I loved getting more details about the time Jonathan and the rats spent at NIMH, and I will continue to read the other accounts in the series. This is such an interesting take on animal testing and turning it into a sci-fi/fantasy account.

4 stars.
Profile Image for Audrey.
996 reviews153 followers
September 5, 2021
I read this several times as a kid. I was most fascinated by the experiments at NIMH (a real government organization!) and would read just those chapters over and over. It’s an intelligent book and expects young readers to understand it. It is not condescending to the young audience.

At fifty years old, the book shows traditional gender roles that some may find offensive. Yet Mrs. Frisby, a housewife mouse with no special enhancements from NIMH of her own, shows amazing courage, strength, and composure. She is a truly strong female and doesn’t have to act like a male to be so.

Language: None
Sexual Content: None
Violence: Mild
Harm to Animals:
Harm to Children:
Other (Triggers):
Profile Image for Karina.
765 reviews
April 19, 2018
I thought this was the best book about rats and mice I have ever read!!! It was fun and the story line was great. I kind of feel bad for them now.... (not that bad where I want to save them or have one as a pet) Great characters and a mommy mouse that loves her family so much she will put her life in jeopardy to save them. Feel good book full of imagination.
Profile Image for Francesca Calarco.
360 reviews30 followers
July 19, 2019
If you are looking for a specific brand of children’s book that is simultaneously wholesome, while containing legitimate sci-fi horror elements, then look no further than Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH.

I’ll admit, I recently found myself re-watching Don Bluth’s film adaptation The Secret of NIMH, which peaked my curiosity to seek out the source material. While I first saw this film as an adult, I cannot say that this story evokes much childhood nostalgia for me as it does for the many others who grew up with the brave, widowed Mrs. Frisby and the ingenious, yet secretive rats.

Unraveling as a story within a story, there are a lot of really interesting characters presented who each provide missing pieces for the “secret” storyline, and/or serve to better contextualize the greater world of sentient animals living on the farm. My only critique would be that given the large cast of rodents (and birds) in such a small book, I was given just enough plot cheese to nibble on without ever really feeling full on complete character development.

My nitpicking (of a children’s book) aside, I’m sure the intended audience would still very much enjoy a tale like this. The entirety of my own childhood was filled with talking animals, and this is a truly unique story that any kid (or adult) with such proclivities could appreciate. Long live rat civilization.
November 21, 2021
I saw “The Secret Of Nimh” at a birthday sleepover party. If it was in grade 6, I was 11 years-old; sensitive enough to have compassion for sad elements and still a baby to be spooked by dark moments. It is this August that I finally read Robert C. O’Brien’s original book 38 years later. I afterwards watched my videotape with my spouse. We were touched but not blown away. It changed in fundamental ways from the storybook, which is unforgettable. We happen to be in the birthday party week-end of my 49th year, this November 2021!

Oh my, you cannot know how profound, enlightening, and intellectual the discourse is, until you read it for yourself! Do not dismiss this formidable 1971 treatise about misunderstood animals by imagining a cute “Disney” tale. If I ignore my knowledge of “animal communication”, that all species, minds, and languages are equal via telepathy; the concept of chemically enhancing brains was interesting. These artificially augmented rats and mice had clothing and books but burrowed into nature’s houses. A farmer was going to level the field where Mrs. Brisby lived, during an illness when her toddler could not go out in cool weather. She was urged to consult an owl, who.... (you see what I did there) directed her to rosebush rats.

I have always revered mysteries and poignant emotions. Meeting the owl riveted me in the book and 1982 film but nothing awed me more than a widow making discoveries about her husband, Jonathan. The message is staggering! Rats do not gather food and are sustained by stealing. Their new intellect affords the occasion to change that. Domestic felines in reality love the wilderness but these educated fictional rats can no longer abide sewers. Robert’s philosophical depth in a so-called children’s story amazed me!
Profile Image for Rachel Aranda.
864 reviews2,258 followers
March 16, 2018
This is the Newberry Award winning book for 1973, and this was there main reason I wanted to read it. Normally it's a mixed bag with books that win this award for me, but this time I can say this book deserved the award. This is a really good book.

This is an interesting introduction to science-fiction for young readers. I mean rats and a few mice with special intellectual properties that want to build their own successful community... What's not to be interested in? The story has aged really well because there isn't anything to date it, like mentioning popular fashion choices of the time, so really anyone can read it.

I only have 3 small complaints. The first complaint is that the pacing of the story can be a bit slow. Still that could be due to the fact books were written at a slower pace in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. The second complaint is that I'm not super happy that we don't know what happened to Justin the Rat either. I like the idea of him and Mrs. Frisby getting to know each other better. Lastly, what happened to Jenner!? Were 6 or 7 rats killed? Is he alive or dead? There are so many unanswered questions that we'll never know because Mr. O'Brien died before he could write a sequel. His daughter did continue the series but as her own writings, which I'm not counting as a true continuation since Mr. O'Brien didn't have any say for those books.

Back to this book... In my opinion, it might be better to read this book by oneself instead of in a group. As this book is a pretty easy read to breeze through. Personally I listened to the audiobook with my fiance for our reading dates. The narrator was quite nice to listen to and seemed to match the story well. However you choose to read this story you'll be happy.
Profile Image for Matti Karjalainen.
2,747 reviews49 followers
May 17, 2021
Leskeksi äskettäin jääneen hiirirouva Frisbyn nuorin lapsi Timothy sairastuu vakavasti jokakeväisen muuttopäivän alla, ja hukka uhkaa periä koko perheen, sillä maanviljelijän aura uhkaa jyrätä heidät kaikki, ellei apua saada jostakin. Viisaan pöllön, valkean hiirivanhuksen ja nuoren variksenpoikasen avustamana hiirirouva tutustuu läheisen ruusupensaan alla asustaviin rottiin, jotka eivät olekaan mitä tahansa pienjyrsijöitä. Frisby pääsee osalliseksi suuresta salaisuudesta, joka sivuaa myös hänen omaa perhettään.

Robert C. O'Brienin "Hiirirouva ja ruusupensaan viisaat" (WSOY, 1977) on lasten fantasiaromaani, joka kuuluu lapsuuteni suurimpien lukuelämysten joukkoon. Kiitos siitä taitaa olla kuulua kummitädilleni, joka tuli aikanaan minulle kirjaa suositelleeksi. Lukuelämys oli niin suuri, etten sittemmin uskaltanut kirjaan tarttua uudestaan. Pelkäsin ajan kullanneen muistot, kuten niin monelle muulle vanhalle lastenkirjalle on käynyt.

Syytä pelkoon ei ollut. Yli kaksikymmentä vuotta myöhemmin "Hiirirouva" oli kaikkea sitä mitä olin sen muistellutkin olevan: jännittävä ja vähän surumielinen lastenromaani, joka jää mielikuvitusta upeasti kutkuttavalla tavalla avoimeksi (ilmeisesti englanniksi sarja jatkui pitempään, mutta tämän yksittäisen suomennoksen voi aivan hyvin lukea itsenäisenä teoksena). Suuri seikkailu ei kaipaa kokonaisen maailmankaikkeuden pelastamista, vaan joskus riittää kirjaimellisesti ruohonjuuritasolla liikkuminen.

Valitettavasti kirjaa ole enää kirjastomme kokoelmissa montaa kappaletta, mutta lupaan siitä huolimatta tehdä kaikkeni, että tämä mestariteos löytäisi mahdollisimman monta lukijaa myös vastaisuudessa. Ja tehkää te muutkin samoin!
Profile Image for Laura.
734 reviews265 followers
February 15, 2018
This one was just ok for me. I enjoy a story from an animal's perspective, so that part was cool. But the sci-fi aspect of this turned me off a bit. I love how the rats banded together to help the mice, and the backstory behind that (although that's the bit that brought in the sci-fi aspect).

I also alternated between reading and listening to this. Am I the only one who finds Barbara Caruso's narration prissy and annoying lol. Not sure, but I think when I go back to reread the first three Anne of Green Gables series, I will be sure to choose other narrations. There is just something about her voice that makes me feel like I'm on the floor in kindergarten class at story time. Just bugs me. Which didn't improve my rating for this one.

Anyway I'm glad I read it. I thought for sure I'd read it as a kid, but nothing in this rang any bells, so maybe I never did.
Profile Image for DivaDiane.
919 reviews81 followers
February 18, 2019
I read this as a kid a long time ago. I was probably 10 or 11, but I don’t remember really. I also had only very vague memories of the book and 2 odd specific ones: that the mice had to move their house to the lee of the stone, and of the hysterical shrew. I also knew I had really loved it.

I’m really glad I decided to read this to my son and that they had it at the library.

It’s quite exciting as stories go and the rats’ story within a story was wonderful. It is so well written that it was a pleasure to read aloud.

I would almost give it a 5, so 4.5* My son is now asleep, so I’ll add what his favorite bits were tomorrow.
Profile Image for Stefan Yates.
220 reviews50 followers
July 30, 2013
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 novel and it is written in such a way that it really doesn't seem that juvenile.

Overall, a great story with a lot of heart. I'd recommend it to just about anyone.
Profile Image for Gail.
1,004 reviews330 followers
April 8, 2022
When I was a kid, I read voraciously (a truth that likely applies to many of us on GoodReads). And one of the books that stands out in my memory as an early favorite is Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. The copy I owned was a hand-me-down from a relative, and I can still picture its white cover and purple text on the shelf of my childhood bookcase. What I can also still picture is the VHS cassette cartridge we kept next to our (new!) VCR that contained our family’s copy of the Don Bluth animated film, The Secret of NIMH (released in 1982, the same year I was born).

Let me pause and say that you know you’re an ‘80s baby if you recall the best animated films of your childhood—American Tail, All Dogs Go to Heaven, Land Before Time—as Don Bluth films. (I mean, Disney is great and all, butttttt their studio flicks of that era had nothing on Don’s work. Just thinking of Littlefoot with his dying mother STILL brings tears to my eyes. Shew!)

Where was I? Oh, right …..talking rats. I knew at some point I would introduce my kids to Mrs. Frisby. And that glorious moment with my 9-year-old son happened this spring, as I read him this timeless classic about a tiny widowed mouse and her relationship to a mischief of extraordinarily intelligent rats. The best part? He loved the story every bit as much as I did. And this weekend, we’re tracking down the animated film so we can watch it together. That, in a nutshell (or a rat’s nest), is what we call the “good stuff” of parenting, if I do say so myself.
Profile Image for Jason Pettus.
Author 12 books1,261 followers
September 23, 2020
The Jason Pettus 2020 Autumn Reading Challenge (join us!)
#16: One of your favorite books as a child

I read some advice recently that said that to lessen the burnout and stress so many of us are feeling during the pandemic right now, it can be helpful to re-read a beloved book from childhood and wallow in the pleasant nostalgia the experience creates; and this is why I thought it'd be nice to add this task to my 2020 Autumn Reading Challenge, because I know there's a lot of other people suffering from catastrophic burnout these days besides just me. And what do you know, it worked! One of my three all-time favorite books as a kid (the others being Judy Blume's Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret and E.L. Konigsburg's From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler), this 1971 novel by longtime National Geographic contributor Robert Conly (writing here under the pen-name Robert C. O'Brien) is remarkable precisely for how naturalistic he portrays the talking animals in his tale -- other than their ability to speak English, the various mice, cats, crows, owls and other creatures found around this New England farm community behave exactly in the way that children might observe their real-life counterparts in the real-life wild, lending his universe a verisimilitude that makes it easier to get sucked into the story than if they were all wearing tiny little human outfits and driving tiny little human vehicles (despite lazy illustrators for later editions depicting exactly that).

That makes it all the more jarring, then, when we discover that there's a group of rats on the edge of the farm that can do exactly that, manipulate human machinery and read and write themselves; and that sets us upon the flashback-told adventure that takes up half the book's page count, involving secret experiments at the nearby National Institute of Mental Health that turned out wildly more successful than they had even guessed (inspired, I just learned today, by actual intelligence experiments conducted by John Calhoun at the real-life NIMH from the 1940s through '60s), leading to super-intelligent rats who manage to escape the facility before their human overlords have even guessed that the rats are smart enough to do so. This is then intercut with a contemporary, more mundane, but still thrilling adventure on the farm itself, as our plaintive widowed titular mouse hero discovers that one of her children is too sick to make their semi-annual pilgrimage from their winter home in the farmer's garden to their summer home in the nearby creek, threatening to kill the family when the farmer decides to do his spring plowing in another five days, and must approach the secretive and intimidating rat colony for help.

The whole thing just really set my imagination on fire when I was a little kid, whether that's the brilliant reveal back at the lab that the rats can now not only read the "TREE" flashcard the scientists have made for them, but now the tiny fine-print parking lot sign in the background of the tree photograph; or the exquisitely logical way that O'Brien establishes the circumstances by which these super-intelligent rats manage to obtain rat-sized tools and rat-sized motors and undetected access to electricity in the first place; or the way he ends the story on an ambiguous, open-ended note, encouraging his child readers to write their own further adventures in their heads for our crafty rats and their unknown future fate. (Wow, what I wouldn't have given as a kid to visit the secluded, mountain-surrounded eden where the rats were heading at the end of the book, where it's intimidated that they had the ability to possibly create an eventual entire town for a thousand creatures, complete with industrial agriculture and a hydroelectric dam.) It does everything a children's book is supposed to in a perfect world -- entertain, inspire, instruct, promote creativity and intelligence, build an expansive mythos -- and reading it at the age of 51 was exactly the kind of transformative journey away from the pandemic and back into my childhood that I was precisely hoping it would be. In this spirit, I encourage you to re-read your own favorite childhood tale soon; and if you've never read this one, I strongly recommend that you do so for the first time, even if you're a cynical little burned-out middle-ager like myself.
380 reviews18 followers
September 26, 2021
This was a great book. I read it in the forth grade and it has stuck with me ever since.
It is about a group of rats which have been biologicly altared to be highly intelegent. They form there own cyvalization and such. There is a family of mice involved as well wherein there is a love story of sorts. I highly recommend this book to all ages.
Profile Image for Kate.
1 review2 followers
February 22, 2012

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 neighbors, but couldn't find any solutions that could even help a bit. One day, the crow she saved few days ago suggested her to go see the owl. There, she found a solution to go see the rats. The rats were very pleased to help her because of her relationship between Mr. Frisby. The rats moved Mrs. Frisby's entire house for her family to be safe and warm. Soon, winter went by, alarming the buds to wake up. Timothy eventually got well, and they lived happily ever after.

2. The main conflict in the book is when Mrs. Frisby's family is in danger from the plowing day. Normally, her family would have moved to a different house up in the mountains to survive from the plowing. However, because of Timothy's sickness, they couldn't take a chance of moving. If Mrs. Frisby hadn't found any solutions, they would have died from the tractor. However, after Mrs. Frisby's hard work, the rats decided to help her solve the problem. Eventually, the problem was solved, leaving Mrs. Frisby's family safe and happy.

3. I personally loved this book because it was very sweet. It wasn't scary or violent, but warm and caring. How Mrs. Frisby tried to save her children gave me an another thought of rats, who really cared of each other just like humans. Even though we ignore and sometimes hate rats, I learned that we should still respect them, because they are part of our planet.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,254 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.