Great Middle Grade Reads discussion

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH (Rats of NIMH, #1)
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ARCHIVE - BOTM discussions > Book of the Season 1 - MRS FRISBY AND THE RATS OF NIMH

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Jemima Pett | 1031 comments Mod
The order in which we ranked the seven books was:

1= Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH 24.5%
1= Counting by 7s 24.5%
3 Fever 1793 20.4%
4= The Teacher's Funeral : A Comedy in Three Parts 8.2%
4= Diary of a Wimpy Kid 8.2%
4= The Wednesday Wars 8.2%
7 Umbrella Summer 6.1%

You can read them over July and August in any order you choose - but please put your comments in the correct thread!

This thread is for MRS FRISBY AND THE RATS OF NIMH

I hope you enjoy it. I'm ordering it from the library and hope it arrives for August.


Georgie | 34 comments I just finished 'Mrs Frisby'. I enjoyed reading it, though it took a little while for me to get used to the idea of mice/rats who not only talk but who have a level of intelligence and a 'life' similar to humans. However, it didn't take too long for me to become so wrapped up in the characters - especially Mrs Frisby herself, Nicodermus, and Justin - that I was able to suspend disbelief and fall entirely into their world.

I think this is quite an unusual MG book as the main characters are all adults with adult concerns, although I suppose Justin is a young man, I imagine equivalent to an older teen or a young man in their 20s or so. While child characters were there - Martin, Teresa, Cynthia, and Timothy of course, and Isabella too - were present and quite strong characters (Martin, Timothy, and Isabella in particular) the majority of the story was driven forward by the characters of Mrs Frisby and Nicodermus. I think this makes for rather an interesting perspective, especially for children reading the book. I suppose it would make them think a little about concerns their parents might have, what the role of a parent is and the struggles a parent, in this case a widowed single mother, might face. That said, although Mrs F's concerns - her children's health, moving house - can be seen as 'adult', they are concerns kids can relate to - fear of losing a loved one, moving to a new place, your life being influenced by forces out of your control (Farmer G's plough). Likewise, Nicodermus, Justin, and Jonathan's experiences at NIMH are on one hand very adult (the ethics of scientifc experimentation on animals, however benign) but are also very relatable for kids - being taken away, being subject to forces outside of your control, being brave and doing the right thing.

The book also very neatly handles some pretty big topics - illness, death (particularly the loss or feared loss of a loved one), prejudice, and the role of scientific progress.

I think 'Mrs Frisby' is a great example of how MG books can work on several levels and be appealing to both kids and adults. On the one hand, it's a rollicking good story about mice and rats coming together against fearsome forces, and on the other it's an examination of love and family and some pretty important issues.
Didn't feel 'dated' to me either, though I suppose these days the rats would have Google and a wi-fi connection to learn about the world! ;)


SaraKat | 47 comments I adore your review, Georgie. I had many of the same thoughts. I marked the portions that described the experiments being done on the rats to show my students examples of control groups and variables. I loved the movie as a kid, but as always, the book is much better!


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Rebecca Douglass (RDouglass) | 1495 comments Mod
Great review, Georgie! I also finished this recently and really enjoyed it.


Justine Laismith (JustineLaismith) | 171 comments Yes, that's a great review. I enjoyed the book a lot more than I thought I would. After reading the entire series of Gregor the Overlander I didn't feel like reading anymore book about rats. Generally I also have reservations - this is going to sound controversial - about books written before 1980s as I tend to find the style condescending and patronising to MG readers. But here, the writing pulled me along even though it had some elements of that. I liked the way the book ended. So all in all I am very glad I read it. I saw that the author's daughter went on to write two further books to make it a series. Has anyone read them?


Jemima Pett | 1031 comments Mod
Disappointingly my order from the library didn't make it onto the bus in time, so I won't get it till the end of August. Not that I haven't got other books to read....


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Rebecca Douglass (RDouglass) | 1495 comments Mod
Jemima wrote: "Disappointingly my order from the library didn't make it onto the bus in time, so I won't get it till the end of August. Not that I haven't got other books to read...."

Bummer! So glad we have a large library system to plug into, especially with the ebook options. Have to think about making sure I have a card for San Francisco or something as we consider moving to a smaller town.


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Manybooks | 140 comments Have not had a chance to look for this book, but am wondering after reading Georgie's review, if the role of the plough and that a plough can be dangerous and deadly to a rodent might be an interesting discussion with regard to vegetarianism and veganism and their comparison and contrast to being an omnivore (eating meat). I mean, if a farmer's plough or if other farm machinery kills mice, rodents and perhaps other animals during harvesting etc. (or at least can kill), would grains then not also be "tainted" if one is really and truly concerned with animal welfare? And I am just posing a question here, I am not in any way advocating for the consumption of meat or against the consumption of meat.


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Rebecca Douglass (RDouglass) | 1495 comments Mod
Interesting question. I have to say that no form of eating is going to be free of consequences for other life forms. I don't think that the book or the author is doing anything on this subject (the danger of the plough is simply a fact of life for the mice), but it is an interesting point. Bobby Burns made the same point for the mouse, "wee, sleekit timering beastie" (did that from memory so probably not quite right).


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Manybooks | 140 comments Rebecca wrote: "Interesting question. I have to say that no form of eating is going to be free of consequences for other life forms. I don't think that the book or the author is doing anything on this subject (the..."

And whatever one eats is also a life form, as fruit, vegetables, grains etc. are also alive.


Jemima Pett | 1031 comments Mod
My copy has arrived! Just in time to read in August ;)


Jemima Pett | 1031 comments Mod
I had no idea I would enjoy this book so much. The blurb didn't click with me, interesting, but the reason for the rats being from NIMH completely escaped me. Go, rats!
This ticked all sorts of boxes for me, especially the desire to be self-sufficient, although the author wrapped it up in a lighter issue of the time, theft.
I suspect it is of its time, which is why it resonates with me. Maybe kids these days need to be told that rats were once experimented on as the back notes implied. I hate to break it to anyone that animal testing, though much better controlled and for necessary reasons, is still well and truly with us. But then I keep guinea pigs as companions.


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