Mrs. Frisby, a widowed mouse with four small children, is faced with a terrible problem. She 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. And Mrs. Frisby in turn renders them a great service.It seems like there are a ton of children's books focus on animals, particularly mice. Redwall, The Tale of Despereaux, and Stuart Little... These are just a couple of examples that I read as a child, but one classic that really stood out to me was Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. Faced with danger from predators and a farmer's plow, Mrs. Frisby has to move her family to safety, but her gravely ill son cannot be moved. Luckily, she finds the Rats of NIMH and they offer help, out of respect for Mrs. Frisby's late husband, who was part of the NIMH rats. The rats, who were captured by scientists from the National Institute of Mental Health, had procedures performed on them that greatly increased their intelligence, allowing them to read, write, and harness electricity.
With help from Mrs. Frisby, the rats drug a cat, outsmart exterminators, and even make their own home away from the scientists who had trapped them in the first place. Eventually, we get the "happy ending," which promises subsequent installments - which I read, too.
The best thing I remembered from this series was the sheer creativity of it. I fell in love with the complex plot and, another added plus, is that Mrs. Frisby was an active character - a heroine - who put herself in harms way to help not only her family, but strangers. She didn't just depend on the rats to solve her every problem, and I admired her for that. While I enjoyed the second book, Racso and the Rats of NIMH, I was greatly unimpressed with the third (both were written by the author's daughter) RT, Margaret, and the Rats NIMH.
To top it all off, in 1982 Don Bluth - one of my favorite animators - made a movie based off the book. It was an amazing film adaptation, even though plenty of liberties were taken. (A magic necklace? Really? Lol) The animation was beautiful, if a little creepy at times, and it was awesome seeing one of my favorite childhood heroines on screen. If you haven't read the book, definitely consider adding it to your TBR pile! At the very least, check out the great movie!