Children's/Coming-of-Age, O'Brien, Robert C.

Review of Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien

Frisby2Mrs. Frisby finds herself in a pickle. Dr. Ages diagnosed her son Timothy with pneumonia, but Moving Day is just around the corner. No one had expected Moving Day to fall so early this year, but the ice has thawed, and Mr. Fitzgibbon will be plowing his fields soon. Out of desperation, Mrs. Frisby seeks the help of the wise owl.

In Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, danger is ever-present. Small animals must be alert at all times or they could be eaten by Mr. Fitzgibbon’s cat Dragon, trapped by human beings, or crushed by a plow. With Timothy sick in bed, Mrs. Frisby faces even more challenges. The fields are ripe for plowing, but there is still a chill in the air. What if Timothy fails to survive Moving Day?

Owl urges the widowed field mouse to consult a colony of rats. The rats of NIMH are highly intelligent creatures that live in a rosebush on the Fitzgibbon farm. Their lives are shrouded in mystery. Just that morning, Mrs. Frisby had seen the rats drag a piece of wiring across the ground and into the rosebush. Although the rats are unfriendly to strangers, owl is sure that Mrs. Frisby will get an audience with the leader Nicodemus. After all, she IS the widow of Jonathan Frisby.

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Robert C. O’Brien won the Newbery Medal for Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH in 1972. The novel is a cross between fantasy and science fiction. Animals and humans frequently cross each other’s paths, but only the most intelligent survive. O’Brien’s genius lies in his ability to bring the characters to life through simple yet fluid prose. Adult readers may find the rats’ story highly unlikely, but children (for whom this novel was written) are too immersed in the novel’s fantasy world to care. Each year, the Newbery Medal is awarded by the American Library Association to an author who has contributed the most to children’s literature. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH was a great choice. It is an enjoyable read and easily accessible to children ages 6-12.


Favorite Quote

“All doors are hard to unlock until you have the key.”

This book counts toward the Newbery Medal Challenge