19 May 2014

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH : 1972 Newbery Award Winner

In March of 2014, I started a new undertaking: reading every single Newbery Medal Winner book.  A number of them I have read in the past, but I am reading them with fresh eyes,and reviewing them for others. I am not reading them in order, as some will require some effort on my part to find them all.  Want to keep track of which books I read?  Check them out at Confessions of a Wannabe Reader!
Mrs frisby and the rats of nimh.jpg
Cover of the book - used for identification purposes only under the fair use clause.
Mrs. Jonathan Frisby: A Mouse on a Mission

With her son, Timothy, desperately ill with pneumonia and to frail to be moved, Mrs. Jonathan Frisby, a young widow of a mouse, is frantic.  Spring is creeping in and the farmer will be plowing his garden soon, the garden that was her family's winter home.  Mrs. Frisby must seek the help of the rats who live nearby.  They escaped from a laboratory at NIMH, but can they help save her son?

This was the first of the Newbery Award books that I had ever come in contact with, but it wasn't through a book.  I saw the Don Bluth movie, The Secret of NIMH as a very young child.  I remember it scared me. Let me say this.  If you have ever seen the movie, the book is different.  The book is titled Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH and was written by Robert C. O'Brien.  I like the book much better than the film adaptation, which leaves out a good number of plot development and changes the characters of Nicodemus, Jenner, and Jeremy.

That being said, the book is a good read.  The idea that rats have the intelligence of humans through laboratory testing is plausible, and the story, while whimsical and pastoral, does say much about the idea of animal testing.  

Family and loyalty are big themes of this story as well.  Mrs. Frisby is a widow with four small children, her husband having died the previous year.  She loves her children, who have inherited their intellect from their father, and will do anything to protect them.  The rats also love their families and will protect them, but also honor the loyalty that Jonathan and the mouse Mr. Ages have given to them throughout the years.  They also mourn the loss of part of their colony through schism.  

If you have a chance to read the book, I would highly recommend doing so.  

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