Tag Archives: rats

Rats!

I’ve always liked rats and mice. I was indoctrinated young, raised on Disney, and Hollywood’s apparent pro-rodent agenda has completely brainwashed me. It’s a wonderful luxury when you think about it. I imagine in other places of the world rodents may directly threaten someone’s livelihood or cause horrible sanitation problems.

But I hit it big in cosmic roulette so I am free to enjoy the anthropomorphizing of the lowly rodent.

The library has a lot of cool stuff to help us get behind rats and mice.

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Up first is a classic, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. Real rat fans will call me a fink for not knowing about this book until recently. I had seen and loved the animated film adapted from this book, Secret of NIMH, but I had not known about the book until I happened upon it in the library. The movie made several large alterations from the original story. The book doesn’t have any magic stones and Nicodemus is not some sort of wizard in the original. All in all, the changes made it a more interesting read. I enjoyed the more realistic take of the book. Like a lot of great children’s literature, the book is very deep and makes an older reader ford some deep waters while grappling with issues of sentience and survival.

And the movie of course.

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Dom DeLiuse kills as the crow Jeremy. The traditional animation is top notch but parents should be a little cautious. This film is a bit violent and maybe a little too scary for younger kids. The rats are really, really cool.

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Brian Jacques is the undisputed king of rodent fiction. Beginning in 1986 with Redwall, Jacques has penned well over two dozen books set in a fantasy world stocked with talking mice, rats, badgers, etc…

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David Petersen’s Mouse Guard combines some of the best elements of Jacques and O’Brien to create a darker fantasy world where the mice live in a constant state of siege. The illustrations are stunning. Petersen depicts nature and the seasons so well I can almost smell the dead leaves when reading the first collected volume of the series, Mouse Guard Fall 1152. If you only read one graphic novel about talking mice defending their homeland this year then this should be it. Seriously though, this book is awesome. There are some gorgeous panels depicting a desperate battle with mouse against crab.

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Another fresh take on the genre is Robin JarvisThe Dark Portal. Set in the small and dark places of London’s underbelly, this novel features occult elements and some epic apocalyptic battles. The trilogy continues with The Crystal Prison and then finally, The Final Reckoning.

But I am terrified of rats and mice, you say.

CLP has that covered too.

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Just the facts, ma’am

“Just the facts, ma’am.”
–Sgt. Joe Friday, Dragnet

On June 11th of this year, Dr. Margaret Chan of the WHO (World Health Organization) announced that the H1N1 influenza virus (the virus formerly known as Swine Flu) had reached the pandemic stage. The actual announcement – “The world is now at the start of the 2009 influenza pandemic.” – is fairly succinct and is a passing sentence in a larger declaration with virtually the same title issued by Dr. Chan and the WHO. I don’t recall seeing any headline or byline of merit in the mainstream media, certainly not at the level poor Farrah Fawcett achieved in Michael Jackson’s posthumous shadow.

While the flu has so far been fairly benign in its effects, it shouldn’t be mistaken for the medical equivalent of Y2K. The potential consequences could be very significant, and there have been enough changes in its progression that the WHO has decided to alter its data collection procedures; it’s becoming increasingly difficult for local and national governments or agencies to collect or report their data.

That we’re able to follow both the spread of the disease and the global developments undertaken to fight and/or cure it is intriguing.  Projecting ahead, it will be interesting to see what will be written about swine flu (there, I said it) when the research has finished and it has run its course.  Historically both a disease and its cause–as independent phenomena–have proved elusive to those investigating it.  The literature can be both informative and engaging, opening up centuries of discovery, politics, history and sometimes the inevitable  “I knew that” moment (insert sound of hand smacking forehead here).  After reading some of the histories I can only marvel at the promise of the times we live in.  In other instances, I felt more like a moviegoer, squirming in my seat, trying to will Harry and Hermione from going “there” or doing “that” because the consequences are so obvious…now.

Available for checkout, some readings on the subject:

–Richard

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