Saturday, September 1, 2007

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien

The Secret of NIMH was one of those formative animated movies for me when I was a kid. My brother and I loved it, probably because it was one of the more violent films that we had seen up to that point. The final scene has the two main groups of rats battling each other, some get stabbed, some get crushed, and in the end there is some pretty sweet magic. I had no idea that it was based on a book, until the other day when I was in the children's section of Joseph-Beth, looking for The Wednesday Wars. I bought both of the books, decidedly more excited about Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH.

Mrs. Frisby is a widowed field mouse with four children. Every year they move out of their home in the garden, escaping the farmer’s plow. With the time to move approaching, Timothy, Mrs. Frisby’s youngest, gets very sick. She is afraid that moving him with be too much. At the behest of Jeremy, a crow that she rescued from the farmer’s cat, Mrs. Frisby goes to visit the old owl that lives in the woods, who tells her to ask the rats for help. These are no ordinary rats. Something is very different about them. As she works with them to solve her problem, Mrs. Frisby finds out that their past and hers are much more connected than she could ever have imagined.

I was interested to see how the magic at the end of the movie would be explained in the book, since often things make a little more sense in book form than they do as a movie (The Shining anyone?). However, O’Brien’s book has no magic in it whatsoever. His is a story that is easily explained, nearly plausible. I realized this about halfway through the book, and I was okay with it. As much as I like The Secret of NIMH, the ending never quite made sense to me. But I was looking forward to the big battle that took place as the rats were trying to move Mrs. Frisby’s house. The battle wasn’t in the book either. Now that was disappointing.

I would have like Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH much more if I had never seen The Secret of NIMH, which created certain expectations. The ending of the book was especially lackluster when compared with its cartoon counterpart. All in all, it was a good book, but I couldn't help but compare it with one of the greatest movies of all time. And in that comparison, it falls a little short.


Christopher said...

Read some damn adult books, man.

In case you're wondering, here are the children's books I have to read this year:

Five Children and It
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Through the Looking Glass
Little Women
Huck Finn
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Peter and Wendy
The Wind in the Willows
Winnie the Pooh
The House at Pooh Corner
The Hobbit
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

I think I'm most excited about Oz and the Wind in the Willows.

Carlton said...

Yeah, you know what I liked about this book? Not one time did I have to read the word "pubis" or the phrase "natal cleft".
Are you sure that these kids book will be nasty enough for your sullied palate?

Christopher said...

Typo: 'subtle' palate.

Nihil Novum said...

Not wondering, douchebag.

Christopher said...

What's that? I can't hear you. I'm too far ahead.

Anonymous said...

what happens at the end of the story?