Reviews - 1971

By Various

Source: The Booklist, July 15, 1971 p. 955

O'Brien, Robert C. Mrs. Frisby and the rats of NIMH. Illus. by Zena Bernstein. 1971. 233p. Illus. Atheneum, lib. ed., $5.95

Mrs. Frisby, a widowed mouse, is directed by an owl to consult with the rats that live under the rosebush about her problem of moving her sick son from the family's endangered home. Upon entering the rat' quarters, Mrs. Frisby discovers to her astonishment that the rats are not ordinary rodents, but highly intelligent creatures that escaped from an NIMH laboratory after being taught to read. How the rats help Mrs. Frisby and she, in turn helps them from being captured, is told in a thoroughly enjoyable animal fantasy that seems almost believable. Grades 4-7

Source: The Horn Book Magazine, August 1971, p. 385

Robert C. O'Brien Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH 233 pp. Atheneum. Illustrated by Zena Bernstein.

The account of Mrs. Frisby's adventures--a talking-beast tale which blends scientific probability and fantasy--is an unusual addition to the stories of animal communities which have fascinated children for generations. Field mice do not ordinarily turn to owls for advice nor ask rats for help, but, then, Mrs. Frisby was not an ordinary field mouse. She was the widow of Jonathan Frisby, whose friendship with the rats under Farmer Fitzgibbons' rosebush remained a secret until the day she faced a serious housing problem and was advised by the owl-sage of the forest to seek their aid. Although she had always known that the rats were different, she had never realized how different until she learned that they and her husband had once been experimental inmates of the NIMH laboratory where, under careful observation, they had been given injections to increase their intelligence and to inhibit the aging process. They had also been taught to read. The combination of longevity and wisdom made it possible for them to envision the development of a new civilization--a rat civilization, adapted to their rodent nature and based on their ability to produce rather than to steal. How they helped Mrs. Frisby, who in turn made it possible for them again to escape the NIMH scientists, becomes and intriguing adventure made plausible through vivid descriptive prose and meticulous selection of detail. The fine pen-and-ink drawings are at once interpretive and decorative.

--Mary M. Burns

Source: The Bulletin of the Center for Children Books, October 1971, pp. 29-30

O'Brien, Robert C. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH; illus. by Zena Bernstein. Atheneum, 1971. 233 p. $5.95

As a widowed mouse and mother, Mrs. Frisby needed help with her problem: how could she move without endangering the life of her sick son, who was not to be exposed to the inclement weather? Advised by a wise owl, she applied to the rats who lived under the rosebush and whose behavior was so mysterious. And so, within this fanciful framework, comes a second story, the saga of the mice of NIMH (a laboratory) who had been used in a series of experiments intended to raise their intelligence level. The rats were able to read and write, so they found a way to escape and were now able to create their own highly sophisticated and civilized community. Both the story and the tale within it are deftly told, fulfilling the first requisite of fantasy by making the impossible believable. The characters are credible, their adventures entertaining, and their conversation natural.

Source: Childhood Education, vol. 48, November 1971, p. 100

O'Brien, Robert C. MRS. FRISBY AND THE RATS OF NIMH. Il. by Zena Bernstein. New York: Atheneum, 1971. Pp. 233. $5.95.

This refreshing animal fantasy is rooted in the traditions of this genre, while its branches touch tomorrow. Mrs. Frisby is a mouse whose late husband, unknown to her, shared with some rats a remarkable laboratory experience, during which injections greatly stepped up their learning potential. When Mrs. Frisby's personal affairs turn desperate, as the rigors of farm life threaten the precarious health of her young son Tim, the rats help, unveiling a marvelous, mysterious project.

Ages 7-12.--L.B.W.

Source: Top of the News, November, 1971 (p.74)

O'Brien, Robert C. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH; Il. by Zena Bernstein. Atheneum, 1971. $5.95.

A deftly told suspense story in which animals with human characteristics deal with crises in a satisfying and exciting manner. Equally enjoyable as an adventure tale or a provocative allegory.

Source: America, December 4, 1971

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH By Robert C. O'Brien. Illustrated by Zena Bernstein (Atheneum. $5.95).

If young Timothy hadn't become ill and if there hadn't been danger that Farmer Fitzgibbon would plough over their winter home before the invalid could be moved to summer quarters, perhaps widowed fieldmouse, Mrs. Frisby would never have encountered the super-intelligent and compassionate rodents, and seen their luxurious underground home. She listened with amazed absorption to the leader Nicodemus as he told of the rat's captivity in a scientific laboratory, of their extraordinary response to the learning process and of their escape and her heroic husband's part in its success. She listened with understanding later on when Nicodemus explained the rats plan for their future, and looked on with sadness when the plan had to be speeded up to insure the very survival of the group. Intriguing and provocative science fantasy for ages 10-12 and up.

Source: Library Journal, December 15, 1971 (p.4159)

O'Brien, Robert C. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. Illus by Zena Bernstein. Atheneum. 1971. CSm $5.95 Gr 5-7.

A strikingly original fantasy about the efforts of laboratory trained and intellectualized rats to create their own Utopian society. Readers can draw parallels to human endeavors or simply enjoy this as a great read: its suspenseful, action-filled, well characterized.

Source: Library Journal, December 15, 1971 (p.4186)

O'Brien, Robert C. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. Illus by Zena Bernstein. 233 p. Atheneum. 1971. CSm $5.95 ISBN 0-689-20651-8. LC 74-134818.

Gr 5-7--Loyal, resourceful Mrs. Frisby, a widowed mouse with four children, is the engaging heroine of this thoroughly engrossing, thought-provoking fantasy by the author of The Silver Crown (Atheneum, 1968). Faced with the move to winter quarters while Timothy, her youngest child, is very ill, she seeks the help of a wise old owl and through him meets the rats of NIMH. As the result of laboratory experiments, these rats--along with Mrs. Frisby's dead husband--had become highly intelligent and had planned and executed a daring escape from the lab. Now, the rats are about to establish a self-sufficient agricultural colony in a remote valley where they hope in time to change the popular image of their species. however, before their departure they solve Mrs. Frisby's problem: Moving Day is put off until Timothy is well, and the mouse family sets off happily for their summer home beside a brook. More cohesively plotted and without the gory details and sense of horror of O'Brien's earlier title, this book ends with the rat's departure, leaving readers to speculate on--and hope for--the success of the rats of NIMH, and to applaud as well the desire of the Frisby children (who have likely inherited the superior species traits of their father) to join the rats in the future.---Frances Postell, Our Lady of the Lake College Graduate Department of Library Science, San Antonio, Tex.