One of my favourite children’s novels is called Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. This Newberry Award winning book is the story of a widowed mouse with a sick child who seeks the assistance of the local pack of rats. Upon gaining entry to the rats’ home, Mrs. Frisby encounters carpeted hallways, an elevator, and a library/school room where the young rats are taught to read. The rats agree to help Mrs. Frisby and explain to her their connection to her husband as well as their journey to human-like intelligence and subsequent escape from captivity. The rats are noble and selfless as they work to create their own self-sufficient community out in the woods so they no longer have to steal from humans or other animals.
I love sharing that story with kids in my classes. However, real rats are not like the rats of NIMH. Instead they scratch through our window screens, obliterate my ripening avocados, and poop all over my kitchen counters. That’s right, paradise is being invaded by a rat! The one thing our rat has in common with its brethren from NIMH? It must be smart because it has successfully eaten the peanut butter without even tripping the trap three nights in a row!