[Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH]: A Review

Hi y’all!

Where has this week gone? I realized today that I hadn’t posted at all this week. There isn’t a big reason for this. Just many little ones from family time to tired evenings. I’m excited to share a recent Newbery read of mine with you today!

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C O’Brien surprised me. I wasn’t sure what to expect from a book like this and was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I really don’t like rodents but I found myself cheering for Mrs. Frisby and her new friends.

Initial Thoughts:

  • This is a great middle grade read. Lots of interesting characters and great themes about defending your family and working hard to support yourself. I wouldn’t read this one aloud to young readers because it is a bit advanced and there is some violence.
  • I bought this book on a whim in a favorite independent bookstore near my grandma’s house. I’m glad to own it!
  • Fun fact, there is a 1980s animated adaptation of this book called The Secret of NIMH that my parents actually own. I haven’t watched it lately but I’m intrigued!


According to Goodreads, “Mrs. Frisby, a widowed mouse with four small children, must move her family to their summer quarters immediately, or face almost certain death. But her youngest son, Timothy, lies ill with pneumonia and must not be moved. Fortunately, she encounters the rats of NIMH, an extraordinary breed of highly intelligent creatures, who come up with a brilliant solution to her dilemma.

Mrs Frisby herself is my favorite character in this novel. She is a great protagonist who goes on a fascinating journey through the novel. I loved her mothering instincts and all she was willing to do for her children. I can relate to her deep desire to help her children and do hard things to save them. Wow, does she have courage! From riding on the back of a crow, conversing with an owl, and sneaking sleeping powder to a cat, there didn’t seem to be anything that scared her too much. I enjoyed how she made friends with the rats of NIMH and wished she had learned more about her husband Jonathan before his death. She is easy to cheer for from the first page.

A highlight of this book is the great character development of not just Mrs. Frisby but all the characters. Even though this is a shorter book, I felt like we really get to know the characters. Even Jonathan Frisby who has died before the story begins is given a backstory and I felt like I knew him. Nicodemus, Mr Ages, Justin, little Timothy, and even Jenner all were interesting and characterized differently. They have different personalities and work together in surprising ways. I enjoyed getting to know each of them. Young readers will surely relate to these characters because they seem almost human in the ways they think and interact with each other.

The history of the rats of NIMH was such a clever and surprising twist to the story. I really didn’t expect the details about their capture and their confinement as lab rats. What an interesting perspective on an experiment to get inside the heads of the rats rather than the scientists. Perhaps because of that unique perspective, I was cheering for the rats to escape from the beginning of their history. Their plan and determination to build their own civilization was actually really neat. I appreciated the ups and downs of their experiences. It wasn’t always an easy life but they keep working hard. Again, I was surprised to find myself cheering for RATS of all creatures.

This book is full of exciting, surprising plot twists. From Mrs Frisby riding a crow, talking to an owl, plans to move the winter house, sleeping powder to the cat, the final surprising escape, and all the other twists in between–it was all very exciting. I easily got into the story and was turning pages quickly to learn what happened next! For me, nothing was too over the top or cliche. I felt like all the action built a coherent story that had me on the edge of my seat. The ending is brilliant and tragic. I wish we knew more about who made the biggest sacrifice and how the rats are doing in their new home. But it also is fitting that there are some unknowns in the end.

Again, this book pleasantly surprised me. I still don’t like rats or mice and certainly wouldn’t want to have them living in my house. But I applaud the great storytelling and definitely found myself cheering these characters on. A fun Newbery winner!

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What books have surprised you lately?
Do you enjoy books told from perspectives of animals or other surprising characters?


I read this Newbery Medal winner as a part of my Newbery Challenge.
I plan to read all 100 Newbery Medal winners by the end of 2022, the year the 100th winner is announced.

3 thoughts on “[Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH]: A Review

  1. Pingback: May Wrap-Up and June TBR – greenish bookshelf

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