1972: Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH (Animal Experimentation Can Be Good)

VERDICT: Treasure

Laurinda’s Rating: 3.5/5

The 1972 Newbery Medal Winner, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, is an eminently readable story starring a family of mice and a group of hyper-intelligent rats. Mrs. Frisby, a widow, cares deeply about her family. In the beginning of the story, her son Timothy catches pneumonia, which endangers the entire family by preventing them from vacating their home before spring plowing. Mrs. Frisby ends up going to the rats, who agree to move her entire house. She also finds out that her husband was good friends with the rats; both he and the rats escaped from the NIMH lab, where they gained heightened intelligence and longevity. The rats help Mrs. Frisby, and she, in turn, warns them that scientists are coming for them, enabling them to escape.

Although a bit tedious at points, the story is generally well told. The author creates sympathy for the hard choices which face Mrs. Frisby. Her mouse-hood fades to the background; instead, her strong personality shines through. The secondary plot, that of the rats’ increased intelligence, is introduced fairly late in the book, primarily as a means to solve Mrs. Frisby’s problem. The NIMH plot is, to me, the more interesting part of the story, though not as well told as the central portion.

Overall, this story is a reasonably entertaining Newbery entry. For children who enjoy animal characters, this is an excellent choice. It is also a great choice to help build a love of nature and empathy towards animals, as the mice and rats all have strong personalities.

 

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