I haven't been around much lately (worrying about me mum), but thought I'd jump back in with a quickie here...

Probably too well-known even to need a mention (but I've never minded being redundant!) is Robert O'Brien's "Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH" (around 240 pages, I think, and maybe early middle-school reading level?). I read it to the lads a couple of weeks ago, and they loved it. Mrs Frisby (a mouse) has four children, one of whom is too ill to go outdoors, and moving day (when the mice leave the garden for safer summer quarters) is fast approaching, with the spring plowing coming soon. She asks some rats for help, which they gladly give.

The rats are escaped laboratory animals, with extremely enhanced lifespan and intelligence due to the experimental drugs they've been given; the story, in very many ways, is an extended meditation on the ethical implications of superior intelligence, and thus probably an apt read for our collective offspring on this board. I especially liked the rats' decision to leave the easy life that is theirs by virtue of their tapping into the farmer's electricity and water supply for a more difficult but more rewarding existence out in the wilderness where they will have to make it on their own--I want the boys to see the value of having to work hard for something, and I thought this book's message was a good one in that regard.

I read this book as a child, but was too phobic about rodents to enjoy it much--am so glad to have found it again, in a state of greater equanimity about small critters!