Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien
March 28, 2009 in Creative Writing activities, Elementary Educators, Middle Grade Novel, O'Brien, Robert C., Sequence Practice Tags: Middle Grade Novel, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, Newberry Medal, persuasive essays, Robert C. O'Brien
Reviewed by Margo Dill, www.margodill.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Middle grade novel, fantasy
Momma mouse and her rat friends as main characters
Rating: Robert C. O’Brien’s book is captivating, and a true classic that children will love for years!
Short, short summary: Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH is a Newberry Medal winner, and once you start reading it, you will see why. Robert C. O’Brien’s story follows Mrs. Frisby, a mouse, who is trying to take care of her children on her own since her husband was eaten by the farmer’s cat, Dragon. In the spring, Mrs. Frisby’s youngest son is ill, and he needs to be moved before the farmer starts ploughing. But what can she do? She knows about the rats who live under the rose bush, and she decides to call on them for help. Soon she discovers that the rats knew her husband, and that they all used to be laboratory animals together. The rats agree to help Mrs. Frisby and a friendship starts. But then, the farmer decides to call an exterminator. Now, what will they do? This is not just a book about rats and mice and life on a farm, but Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH also explores the themes of friendship and heroism.
So, what do I do with this book?
1. This is a great book to study the parts of a story or even a story arc. Your students should be able to find the problems and solutions in this book as well as important events leading to the climax of the story. In small groups, you can assign your students to draw and write about the important events of the book, in sequential order, and mark the climax with a star. When students present their work to the class or another small group, they can talk about the different problems in Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH and how the characters solved them.
2. What is personification? Personification is when you take an object or animal and give it human characteristics. This book has several examples of personification. Ask students to give you examples, and they should not all focus on the fact that the animals can talk. Students or your children should look at the relationships between the animals–love, loyalty, and friendship are all human characteristics. Discuss with your children why authors use personification.
3. In a persuasive essay, ask students to write why they think Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH deserved the Newberry Medal. You may need to have a discussion about the Newberry Medal and explain to students some history of the award. Make sure students include specific examples to support their opinions in their persuasive essays. If students did not like the book, they can write about this instead. The important thing is that they are writing a persuasive essay.
If you have used this book with your students, please leave a comment here and let us know how it went.