Title: Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
Author: Robert C. O’Brien
Major Themes: Rats, Mice, Science Fiction (Sci-Fi)
Synopsis: When a mouse widow needed help desperately, she was given unexpected advice: Ask the rats for help.
One genre we rarely read is science fiction. However, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH is on our shelf because it is used in a high school level of Sonlight Curriculum, and when my 9-year-old was choosing a read-aloud recently he noticed this book and decided to choose it. It was quite a different read for us—and a fun one!
Mrs. Frisby, a mouse widow, was quite worried. Her son was very sick with pneumonia, and couldn’t be moved—but it was spring and the garden in which their house was buried would soon be plowed up! They had to move to their summer home in the woods down by the creek. How could they get there, and save Timothy’s life? The crow took her to ask advice from the owl in the forest, and he gave her some extraordinary advice when he heard her name. She should ask the rats for help.
Mrs. Frisby gathered up all the courage of a mother whose child’s life is in danger and went to the rats’ home. When they heard her name, they, too, were very ready to help her. The story these incredibly intelligent rats told her was almost unbelievable, but it explained many mysteries that she had wondered about. But, what would happen to the rats when they were discovered?
This is a fun example of a “what if” that someone took and ran with. What if scientists are able to change both intelligence and lifespan with some sort of treatments? What if rats could become as intelligent as humans? On the other hand, we noticed the evolutionary mindset coming through strongly at one point, where it talks about monkeys coming down out of the trees, losing their tails and building a civilization. Be sure to discuss this book with your children. The underlying premise is faulty, because it is based on the wrong assumptions and leaves God completely out of the picture.
WARNING: See last paragraph.
Listening Level—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 12
Reading Independently—Ages 12 – 15, 15 and Above