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Title: Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
Author: Robert C. O’Brien
Age Range: 8-12
Grade Level: 4-6
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH was written by Robert C. O’Brien and published in 1970. It was a winner of the 1972 Newberry Medal. Mrs. Frisby is a widowed mouse living on the Fitzgibbon farm with her four children. Spring is approaching quickly which means she and her children must move from their winter home before the fields are plowed. Her youngest son, Timothy, becomes sick with pneumonia and cannot make the move until he is well. Mrs. Frisby seeks a solution in an unlikely place, finding that the unusually intelligent rats living in the nearby rosebush have quite a history and are willing to help.
I think that I had seen this movie as a child before ever reading the book. I thoroughly enjoyed the story, as it was filled with intrigue and suspense. A number of important character traits can be found throughout the story: Mrs. Frisby is determined and has great perseverance in finding a solution to her problem. Her kindness also contributes to her success, as it is ultimately this trait which leads her to the rats of NIMH. She also must trust the rats, despite her initial misgivings. The rats themselves are unusual, displaying high intelligence which is due to time spent in a lab, subjected to a variety of tests, as well as injections. The topic of animal testing is not presented in great depth, though you may want to be prepared to answer questions children may have regarding this sensitive subject. (Here is a link that may help get the conversation started.)
This is a book where there is a story within the story: we are told the tale of the rats in the midst of Mrs. Frisby’s dilemma. Overall, a wonderful read for kids who like a lot of action!
There are two additional books in the series, written by Jane Leslie Conly. The first, published in 1988, Rasco and the Rats of NIMH, and the second, published in 1991, titled R-T, Margaret, and the Rats of NIMH.
Resources for Teaching
- Free Teacher’s Resource Packet
- Printable Worksheets
- Character Traits Book
- Lesson Plan Ideas
- Mice Coloring Pages
- Rat Coloring Pages
- Make a Mouse Collage
- Create a Paper Bag Owl Puppet
- Handprint Crow Craft
- In Depth Literature Guide