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

Publisher:  Alladin Paperbacks, 1971;  Awarded: 1974(Tie).

Synopsis:  Mrs. Frisby's son, Timothy, is very sick, so the mouse mother turns to a group of highly intelligent rats who have escaped from their laboratory prison.  Can the rats really save the day?

Themes:  fantasy, intelligence, rodents, family, animal testing

Author Information:  Fourth Book of Junior Authors, p 276

Discussion Questions:  Standard 3, Benchmark 3.

1.  Should people do research on rats and animals if it helps people live?

2. What steps did Mrs. Frisby take to save her children?

3. How did those intelligent rats help Mrs. Frisby and the children?


1. Using science experiment books for examples, create a simple machine, such as a pulley, wedge, or an inclined plane.  Standard 3, Benchmark 1.

2. Research rat facts and write the facts on a giant rat for your hallway of bulletin board.  Standard 1, Benchmark 5.

3. Research animal communication.  Have the children perform animal talk (bird calls, grows, dolphin squeaks) and tape- record it.  Play the tape back for the entire group and have them guess which animal is communicating.  Standard 3, Benchmark 1.


The Headless Cupid. Zilpha Keatley Snyder

Publisher:  Antheneaum, 1971;  Awarded:  1974(Tie).

Synopsis:  David and his siblings meet their new step-sister, Amanda.  She moves into their old mansion with her pet crow and an interest in the occult.  Strange things begin happening after the children hold a séance to contact the house's famous poltergeist, who had been rumored to have cut the head off one of the wooden cupids on the intricate staircase.  The question is, who is doing these new mysterious things.  Is it Amanda or the poltergeist?

Themes:  Poltergeist, step-children, blended families, the occult, family, hoaxes

Author Information:  Third Book of Junior Authors, p 270

Discussion Questions:  Standard 3, Benchmark 3.

1. Would you have told your parents your suspicions about Amanda?  Why or why not?

2. Why did Amanda pretend to be a poltergeist?

3. How do we know Amanda has given up the occult?


1. Research a famous or infamous house in your town or state.  Create a class book of haunted houses.  Standard 1, Benchmark 5.

2. Read up on ghost stories, turn out the lights, grab flashlights, and retell the stories.  Standard 1, Benchmark 5.

3. Research famous hoaxes and create a bulletin board with hoax headlines.  Standard 1, Benchmark 5.