Wednesday, September 22, 2010

1972 - Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH

Growing up, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH was a cartoon – a much loved cartoon. There was poor, cute little Mrs. Frisby, and sick little Timothy. The dashing (yet, very much dead) Jonathon…not to mention evil lab employees in white coats grabbing squeaky mice by their tails and injecting them with big syringes of fluid that vaguely resembled gingerale (which to my surprise, after working with mice for vaccine development years later was eerily accurate).

In 4th or 5th grade this was a required reading in my literary class, which I neatly got out of ready by lying to the teacher, telling her I had already read it, and then managing to fib my way though a verbal quiz by being intentionally vague and sticking to the general plot of the cartoon.

I had read most of the books required for the class previously and the teacher would let me pick my own books if I had already read the required reading. Most of the books she picked were BORING, so I got out of them if at all possible - much to my chagrin as an adult when I picked this book up from the library.

What a delightful, entertaining book! Poor, widowed Mrs. Frisby must have her house placed to the lee of the stone, so that it isn’t plowed over by the farmer. I’ve often observed this phenomenon – that the area right behind a big stone is left unplowed or undisturbed by natural occurrences – and thought this was a very innovative plot element. In the search for the answer to her dilemma, it leads her to consult with an owl, go piggy back on a crow, drug a cat, and learn the truth about the death of her husband, Jonathon.

I truly enjoyed this book. Well written, exciting, innovative, and well-paced – this is a Newbery award winner, (along with “The Graveyard Book”), that will find a permanent place on my book shelves.

The first image is the book cover I had in 4th grade, the second the cover I actual read from the library.


Carolyn said...

I also loved this book when I finally read it. I never knew it was a book before a movie until several years after we had the movie. I enjoyed the cartoon everytime it was watched, especially when the young rat says "Damn!" when Mrs Brisby is captured.
And that's another interesting thing. They changed her name to Mrs. Brisby instead of Frisby for the movie. Maybe because of Frisbee.

Mel said...

Mmm...I didin't catch the name change.

Carolyn said...

Another interesting thing, the paperback I have came right after the movie, and it is titiled *The Secret of NIMH* just like the movie was renamed, and underneath is written, *Original Hardcover title, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH.*
Do you notice that there is no romance in the movie? It is pure adventure and relationships.

Mel said...

I never thought about it but you are right. Mrs. Frisby doesn't find a new husband or fall in love with any of the rats or anything silly like that.

It was also interesting how the book and cartoon climax was different - the cartoon climaxed (and yes, that is spelled wrong) around the moving of the house, while the book was much more focused on the rats delima (see - that's what riding 100 miles will do - destroy your spelling!) of the "right" thing to do.

Carolyn said...

If I had read the book first, I would probably remember that part better. But the movie is pretty embedded in my mind.