Thursday, October 29

Racso and the Rats of NIMH

Timothy Frisby is heading off for his third year of school - because of the distance from home, he won't see him mother or siblings for nine long months, but the education he'll get from the NIMH rats will be invaluable. Jeremy the crow usually takes Timothy on his back, but his mother's injured and he can't, so Timothy careful makes his way on foot. Walking cautiously through the woods, Timothy comes across clear signs of another traveller - one considerably less cautious than he, for there are broken branches, marks of a carelessly waved tail, and even a fire that has only been partially extinguished.
The newcomer is Racso, a city rat who's heard about the NIMH school and has run away from home to learn. Ignorant about almost everything to do with country life, Racso is nonetheless very confident and full of himself, something that doesn't change when they arrive at the rats' valley home. Yet as a new catastrophe threatens the home of the world's only intelligent rats, Racso shows his true worth.
I am a hopeless completist - despite my disappointment with Robert O'Brien's Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, I nonetheless felt compelled to continue rereading the trilogy. O'Brien's daughter wrote the sequels, which are true to the original, which sadly means all the things I had issue with first time around are still there. Timothy's off for his third year at school, yet somehow his mother's still well, despite the fact that she's not an enhanced former research subject but an ordinary field mouse. Timothy's brother has a new bride but his sisters live at home still - with no question of them also going away to school. And there're still references to clothing - including a jaunty beret worn by Racso.
Racso and the Rats of NIMH is a whimsical animal-based novel that would appeal to young readers, and certainly appealed to me when I was one. If you have a problem with overly anthropomorphised characters, though, and like me cannot move past this, you will be wrenched out of disbelief on every other page. - Alex

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