Racso and the Rats of N.I.M.H.

We begin with Mrs. Frisby cleaning up and updates of what her children are doing and where they are. Timothy, for instance, had gone away to school since her home is not nearby Thorn Valley. We also learn it’s three years later since their first adventure. Then Jeremy drops by to inform Mrs. Frisby his mother needs some medicine given to him by Mr. Ages for an accident she had and wouldn’t be able to fly Timothy to school. Mrs. Frisby tries to reassure Jeremy they’ll manage and his mother will be fine when given the medicine. Meanwhile, Mrs. Frisby informs Timothy of the news and he becomes excited about the possibility of making the trek himself, which of course worries his mother, stating she’d think it over, as she’s known to do. She speaks to Martin, her oldest, who’s moved out with a girlfriend, about the possibility. He was in support of Timothy’s journey, since he had been doing so well with the collection of food they had done earlier, proving his strength, which was well, but not like “normal”, since his illness. I’m enjoying Conly’s style already, it flows smoothly like her father’s story had.

The next morning Mrs. Frisby gives permission for Timothy to go and bids him farewell outside their family home whilst his sisters and brother walk with him to the edge of the forest. Timothy was happy being on his way. When he stopped to rest for the night, he noticed a couple of strange matters in the forest on his journey thus far; one being swept-aside leaves and crow cries. The next morning he comes across a fire which he puts out, then not long after, hears cries for help. When he decides to investigate he sees it’s a small rat caught in the swift river and helps him with a branch. After saving him and noticing they were heading in the same direction, they get acquainted and the rat, Racso seems to be the cause of the strange scatter of leaves. Racso, upon resting, offers Timothy his first taste of a candy bar, and from there explains his reason for travelling in the forest. We realize Racso’s father is one of the rats of N.I.M.H. and had been in the battle which ended the first book, but isn’t mentioned by name. Until, after being told how Racso had gotten as far as he did, Timothy was offended by how Racso regarded his encounter with Jeremy, as well as Racso’s father being the missing rat who was seen disappearing after making it out of the burning and poisoned home they had near the Fitzgibbon’s farm. When Timothy pulled out a dictionary, he finally shuts little Racso up with the fact he knew how to read. Due to Racso being so arrogant, when he saw he could, he tried to bribe him to teach him how, but Timothy told him he may as well accompany him to school, which of course pleased Racso.

I’m enjoying the quick pacing of the story, it’s similarities, the tie-ins, and flow of speech; Conly did well. Although again, Timothy is given misgivings which seem to belie his years. Although it isn’t said what age mindset Timothy would be by this time. In any case, he wonders whether Racso will fit in or make trouble like his father had. Another problem arises when Racso seems to get tired too easily and then reveals city rats are used to being active at night. Timothy was unfortunately stuck wasting half a day for Racso needing a two-hour nap. They both end up being awake during the night, though Timothy told Racso most mice stay indoors, for owls hunt at night. Although, now both were wide awake and so tried to make up lost time. They had a scary run-in on their journey where Timothy saves Racso, then himself, from certain death.

Mrs. Frisby receives a worrying letter from the rats and is then summoned by the owl in the forest who believes he’s killed her son. Mrs. Frisby is understandably aggrieved and in shock by the news. When she leaves his house she commands the crow who gave her a ride, to fly low and search for someone. Timothy is in bad shape, but still alive with the care of Racso who hears the cries coming from a bird which keeps circling nearby, thinking it’s the owl come back, but whom is most likely Mrs. Frisby where we ended at the last chapter. Then Timothy tries to walk after three days of restless sleep and recovery with no luck and so Racso realizes what he must do to get Timothy to Thorn Valley.

As Timothy gets better, Racso starts becoming his old self again. He begins confiding Timothy of a movie he sneaked into, The Last of the Mohicans and which is how he’d learned most of his “survival” skills. Timothy tried to set him straight with some rules of how to act in the woods Racso thought he knew already, like covering up his trail; fail. Lighting a fire in the woods; fail, again. After, Racso tried to calm Timothy by suggesting he rest. Racso worked on his sling he learned from the Indians in “Mohicans”. It seemed to work, if not paining Timothy and tiring them both with the effort, but they were on their way. They reached the fork in the river and bed down midst a honeysuckle thicket. They then shared the rest of their provisions.

The next morning as they moved on, they heard something approach which finally happened to be good news. Racso gets to meet the main rats including Justin and Brutus, but he’s feeling a bit foolish after his miscalculation of the danger they posed and wanted to make a good impression. They started walking again and once they got close enough to the mountain, they decided if they would be able to make it all the way there with Racso, who was growing tired quickly and may not have been able to walk the steep trail; but he makes it with the rest of them, boasting ignorantly about certain “facts” which the rats let go. Upon arriving, Racso is given broth which he takes gratefully. Nicodemus is met and Racso learns Justin, Nicodemus, and some others roles in their community. Nicodemus thanks Racso for caring for Timothy, but it seemed they might have realized the type of loose cannon he was and Racso felt entitled to more than he deserved. Also, he wondered why Nicodemus told him it was a “visit” he was welcomed for and why they didn’t know he wanted to stay, but he was complacent for the moment since he was being shown where he could sleep for the night, which he found out he was to be bunking with Timothy. Also, Timothy was called a hero and not Racso, for his part, not knowing he did more wrong than right.

The next morning Timothy is gone from the room already and Racso is given a tour by Brendan. After, Brendan stops at his room for his school supplies and Racso gets greedy, wanting one of his pens after being rebuffed and told how one could go about acquiring one. Racso saw one hanging out and swipes it which Brendan immediately announces Nicodemus about as he’s walking toward them. After, Nicodemus gets Racso to return the pen and takes him to his office to discover more about him. Racso takes the opportunity instead to lie and Nicodemus catches him with the intent of sending him away unless he came clean. Racso changes his tune and Nicodemus is surprised with the news. He leaves a moment to see if the rat they’d sent to evaluate the depth and speed of the river due to flooding had come back and upon his return, Racso tries to make excuses for his behavior and it won’t be repeated which Nicodemus knew wasn’t true, expecting it to happen plenty since Racso was used to getting his way. After, another rat bursts into the room with bad news regarding the river.

Racso starts school and tries hard to be polite to the other rats, but he’s still plagued with his efforts in being popular and making a good impression. It puts them off and makes Timothy roll his eyes when he declares lies and Brendan pushes his buttons for his thievery which definitely does the trick. Racso still becomes jealous of Timothy and would fantasize hurting him if he wasn’t his only friend; selfish, ignorant child. More examples of these qualities follow and then rats are being chosen for scouting parties for the discovery of why the river was rising, which Racso wasn’t chosen for and Timothy was, of course hurting Racso’s fragile ego yet again, but Christopher, who also wasn’t chosen thought they’d have plenty to do in Thorn Valley, regardless, with a gleam in his eye, for he was “wild”, as well.

Timothy and the group are on their way and make a camp after getting to the river, they cross a steep valley and begin to feel a noise which was human related and terrified Arthur, the leader of the group, once he recognized what it was. They go down to investigate and one of the rats uncovers the plans to what the humans had in mind, which angered another, refusing to let it happen. Racso, lonely after Timothy’s departure, begins to miss his family as well as he. We are told when Racso’s affection for Timothy begins and how he fills his idle time in Thorn Valley. When Racso and Christopher are given a list of tasks, they realize neither are still able to read and so accidentally ruin the plants they were supposed to attend. They try to fix their mistake and Racso shares with Christopher what kind of candy could be made from them, dreaming of glory for sharing it with the community. When they are discovered by the rat who delegates the tasks, she has a conniption and other rats hurry to determine the problem. When Racso mentions the reason for their not understanding the directions, another rat understands and doesn’t blame them and Racso lets them know of his idea for a surprise which he had for them, which gets them decidedly interested, but he decides he’d give the one rat the biggest portion of the sweet he had in mind, since she was so sad and it made him feel guilty.

Timothy and his group begin copying the plans the humans had and most were worried and ready to return home to spread the news. Justin’s group gets back first with no news. Racso and Christopher are there to greet both parties enquiring to how their mission had gone. Racso becomes traumatized by Timothy’s reveal about what they discovered, worrying the rats around him. Elvira diagnose’s him and when given horseradish soup, is indignant by the persistent taste and voices how his mother would have done it, which Elvira seemed glad to inform Racso, she was definitely not his mother. After Timothy’s group and Nicodemus study the plans, some of which they couldn’t grasp even with their engineering knowledge, they pondered how the humans were able to do this project in a state forest. They continue to discuss the problem with Nicodemus.

They segue to a break and then to Brutus seeing Mrs. Frisby and Jeremy. She wanted to speak with her son and how there was bad news about the farm. The rats gather and share the news about the plans which will eventually force them to move. The only good news being it won’t be for at least half a year. Mrs. Frisby is then asked to give her news to everyone as well as Timothy and Racso present, she almost feels too overwhelmed to do so, but when she looks to her son and his friends, senses the strength. The rats continue to debate the best ways to confront the problem. As they do, Racso remembers an experience he had in the city when one of the rats mentioned the use of a computer. Racso blurts out an idea which makes the rats hopeful, but his dreams became more egotistical once they accepted, which they silently tolerated. Justin and the rats begin to volunteer for different tasks to the plan of making their own computer program and erasing the one the humans made on the computer for the dam project; ha. Later, Christopher and Brendan start to wonder where Racso had learned about writing words backwards and debating aloud whether Racso’s father was actually a mouse. Racso becomes agitated and once getting them to drop the subject, thinks how close they were to figuring out his secret.

When Racso is called to see Nicodemus, he was told to take a backseat with the rock star talk and accessorizing he was beginning to get the other young rats to adopt, as well as his “no longer ‘secret’ language”. Racso has to decide whether to give up those pastimes for advice about keeping his father’s identity a secret. The advice given relieves Racso, and Nicodemus invites him on a walk where a memorial to the rats lost in their nest near the Fitzgibbon’s farm had been erected, we also learn more of the circumstances behind who the rat whom had gone back for the one or two which almost didn’t make it out was. Then Nicodemus notifies him he may be able to work as an assistant to Elvira in the lab, which he is honored and excited to accept, but then Nicodemus brings his attention to the training unit lining up and Racso runs off, realizing his lateness.

Racso and Isabella get teamed up, to his excitement and her annoyance, when they’re given the assignment to map out an area near the creek. Racso is determined to win her over with his gentlemanly manners. When they continue to the area given for them to map, Racso notices a terrifying sound and they both hide. We then get a change of perception when we see it from Timothy’s point-of-view, from halfway up the mountain and uses the warning signal to let the others nearby know of the danger coming. We skip back to Racso and Isabella hiding and the canoe which was heading straight to their side of the creek. When the humans stop to rest right near their hiding place, they overhear the reasons for their being there, which aren’t the same as those doing the construction. The humans soon detect something Isabella had to leave behind, or be discovered, which terrifies Racso. Christopher and his teammate aren’t far from them when Christopher decides to investigate by climbing a tree instead of immediately heading for the emergency signal, which was the plan when they heard it. He instead brings trouble to them by trying to silently signal his partner to stay quiet and makes the branch he’s using, break off, which alerts the humans to investigate. When the woman hears the crash, she drops the item she found and Racso believes he can swipe it without her noticing. When the man returns, he alludes to the spy being a creature whom would consider the area his home, making one think he considered the animals savvy enough to understand instinctively what the humans were up to; a little odd. They search for the item the woman dropped before heading back.

Meanwhile Christopher seems to be in a worrisome condition and Racso is stubbornly trying to stay positive, even though his state is serious due to the weather. Also Isabella was being dropped from the training program due to her unsatisfactory reaction whilst the humans were close to them; she didn’t take it well. Racso also confesses to the other rats about his lie he told about where he came from, taking Nicodemus’ advice which worked out well for him.

Timothy then has an outburst during class as they’re being told of Christopher’s condition and how they could do more to help and when Timothy is alone with Racso, he confides a dream which was worrying him which felicitated his outburst. The dream is so vivid, Racso suggests informing Nicodemus, and Timothy agrees to go in the morning. When Nicodemus confirms it’s a troublesome dream, he also doesn’t think much can be done for it, but Timothy thinks a message should be tried to be taken there by bird, which is set out to be done by Justin. Racso sees a bird descend to the mountaintop and informs Timothy. We then see Elvira caring for Christopher who’s not worse, but no better either, when his parents come to visit him. Meanwhile Isabella is coaching Racso on how to grind the plant for his surprise candy which is now being made for Christopher.

We are then taken to Justin who sees the sentries come down as the snow gets thicker and learns the bird came for the messages was an owl. Racso is then seen sneaking into Christopher’s sick room in the infirmary to give him a taste of the candy and is heart-broken when it doesn’t wake him. The next chapter begins with the plan which is settled on to shut down the dam computer; hee-hee. The only other question asked besides how the computer will be destroyed, is whom will be chosen to carry out the plan, which won’t be divulged until the next Monday. We also notice Racso did help in Christopher’s recovery a little, but Isabella takes the credit to make herself feel better for being dropped from the training program, which Racso realizes and lets her get away with, at least for the time being. When he returns from fetching more candy for Christopher, he discovers this by Elvira, Jeremy has returned almost frozen, to deliver the medicine in aiding Christopher the rest of the way to health.

The list for the mission is posted and Racso is delighted by the results, but keeps his celebrating subdued, learning from past obnoxiousness. When they saw the amount of progress on the dam there was upon their arrival, it was more than they expected. They lived like how humans camp, “roughing it”-style. They studied the schedules of how the site worked and other details. Justin plus two others enter the computer room and whilst the two surveyed their surroundings, Justin took notes from the computer manual until hearing the signal the guards were close by and hid until the “all clear” signal was heard. At first the note-taking was slow going, until Racso figured out what “Xerox” meant, after he’d heard there was one in the room and thinking about it for a short while. Justin and Racso go the next night to easily learn how to work it and have half the manual completed before hearing the “scatter” signal. When they were in the middle of “covering their tracks” after completing the copies, they are noticed by men coming in. To stop the men from disposing of Racso’s partner, he goes to an extreme length to get their attention.

It does the job, but now both are captured and the guards are debating what to do about it and how they’d prove what they saw; One Froggy Evening from Looney Tunes-like. They were thinking of bribing the rats, when they decide to see if they’ll write again, confirming their beliefs, which Racso obliges with a straight-forward and truthful message. Before leaving them to punch their time clocks, they secure them with extra weight to make escape more difficult. Justin and the others manage to help them though, trying to account for the items which may be out of place and the messages Racso wrote, one of which the guard had taken with him. The rats realize who made the error in not tapping the signal in time, but also everyone should have a partner to assuage mistakes. They also consider whether anyone will believe the guards should they be brave enough to confess to anyone else and decided to hope for the best until later. When they go back out on another mission, Racso and Timothy along, Racso is acting silly and almost gets himself killed which helps sober him to why his father feared for him and his family so much. Racso decides to confess his heritage to the others right then. After, Justin arrives at their headquarters with articles about the dam which made everyone much more hopeful, but still intended to finish the mission in case the dam was still completed.

Nicodemus ascertains the date planned is pushed forward and warns the others, also adding news from the community, by letter. The group already heard about the opening day though, due to the banners being put up, etc. Three days until opening, everyone is practicing their roles to set their plan in motion. A mystery occurs when Beatrice and Nolan see an unidentified rat when Brendan goes to deliver some paperwork at H.Q., which puzzles them and the rat remains unknown. The group then waits to start the process of their scheme, but are delayed by two humans, most likely in the middle of an interview. When the sign to proceed is finally given, they get straight to work, trying to perform quickly to make up for lost time. It doesn’t seem they’ll make it, then the power goes out. We learn the reason in the next chapter. Sally begins arguing they should all be leaving to meet up with the rest and continue they hadn’t been able to complete the plan, which Arthur thought they should wait on to unearth the cause of the power failure.

They learn after the opening will be postponed for a day to repair the power, to some people’s disappointment, leaving the rats another night to finish the operation. The rats realize whoever they saw during the night was the one responsible for the power outage and were going to try and figure out his identity. Due to having to wait for the humans to repair the power before being able to finish their computer program, they take the time to search for clues to the identity of the rat involved in the subversion. Then we do learn the identity of the rat, and Conly sure knows how to ruin a good family reunion. After the discovery, Justin discloses to Timothy how most of them plan on leaving whilst some few stay to finish the mission and how Timothy would be sent home with the news and whilst Timothy would have offered staying to help, he was quite homesick to return and accepted, in the end.

Newspaper headlines give us the gist of what happens with the plans of the dam malfunction. Racso learns to swim being coached by his friends and also gets more attention from Isabella when her hopes are crushed by her crush. Timothy and his mother receive a memorial invitation from the rats at their summer home near the Fitzgibbon’s farm, with some coaxing from her neighbors and is convinced in attending with her son. At the ceremony, speeches are given next to the stone etched with the rat’s name and a word which means everything to the rat’s family member. Timothy lightens the sadness for a moment and Mrs. Frisby has a chance to speak with the rats she knew and get introduced to those she didn’t. Jeremy is given a couple presents of gratitude as well and Nicodemus closes with a speech which is kind and humble and the conclusion of the story isn’t far after. It’s a sweet ending and a good read, if I ever get the chance to read the sequel, I’ll be happy to continue the final installment to the series.

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3 thoughts on “Racso and the Rats of N.I.M.H.

  1. Pingback: Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH | Book Fiend

  2. An astonishingly thorough and considered review, one of many on this marvellous blog. Obviously a great labour of love. Bravo.

    • Thank you, I definitely put much time into it, and treat my posts more like memory aids due to reading so many. I’m glad it’s getting through to at least some people.

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