Reading Diary: Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien
Surely rats would have developed reading and writing, judging by the way we took to it. But what about machines? What about cars and airplanes? Maybe not airplanes . . . Rats may not have that instinct.
In the same way, a rat civilisation would probably never have built skyscrapers, since rats prefer to live underground. But think of the endless subways-below-subways they would have had.
We thought and talked quite a bit about all this, and we realised that a rat civilisation, if one ever did grow up, would not necessarily turn out to be anything at all like human civilisation . . .
It was interesting to reread this book while still in "Full Dystopia Mode." (Hi, Kate!) Dystopian novels and films always feature civilisations which are either already dead or stretching out an inevitable death in some intellectually gruesome way. They make a morbid spectacle that I'm not quite sure is good for the soul, although that impression wasn't clear to me until I varied my diet with this decidedly different novel.
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH is one of those rare children's books that can take an epic theme and make it work wonderfully. It gives us another look at civilisation, with a special focus on what it takes to keep one healthy.
And yes, the keepers of this very healthy civilisation are rats. I hope that's not a problem for you, because they're wiser about theirs than we are about our own.