1 member(s) found this review helpful.
ISBN 0590341502 - I'm going to start by qualifying my 5 stars. There are some things in this book that, while they didn't cause any uproar in 1952, will bother some parents today. I think the book is very worth reading, but if any of the following freaks you out, perhaps you'll disagree with me. The very premise of the Borrowers, that they survive by taking from the human beans of the house, might be seen as stealing, rather than borrowing. This is even brought up in the book; it's possible to see the ending of the story as evidence that "borrowing" isn't the best way to live, anyway. Several human beans get drunk on a routine basis - the word "drunk" is never used, but it is what they do, and it's used as an explanation for certain sightings of Borrowers. If those are things you simply can't get past, don't read this book. If you're able, however, to look past those things, read on!
The Borrowers, a race of small people, live in the floorboards and walls of old, quiet country houses. While Kate and Mrs May work on a quilt, Mrs May tells the story, as told to her by her brother, of the Borrowers who'd once lived in the house of Great-Aunt Sophy. Pod and Homily and their teenage daughter Arrietty are the last of their kind in this house, all the others having emigrated after one of them was seen by a human bean. Sent there to recover from rheumatic fever, Mrs May’s brother befriends Arrietty. Her parents consider this a danger but when he gives them gifts from the dollhouse, they accept him and the new life of ease that he brings. No longer will Pod need to venture out to support his family! Unfortunately, the boy's borrowing has come to the attention of Mrs Driver and the secret of the Borrowers is revealed. The fears of Arrietty's parents are all about to come true!
There's so much to this book! It's a fun fantasy title that offers an entertaining explanation for all those things that go missing in every house. If that was all there was to this, I'd say it was a nice book for kids, but there's actually some good messages (mixed in with the drinking, lol). You might expect the Borrowers to be afraid of humans, but it turns out that the humans are also afraid of the Borrowers. This fear and intolerance is a good opening for discussion. Borrowers fear, but need, humans; humans don't need Borrowers and set out get rid of them. The Borrowers are chased out of their home and will, in many ways, cease to be borrowers and become more independent. The glimpse of their life after they leave the house sounds pleasant, possibly better than before. Will independence make them happier than a life of ease?
Author Mary Norton creates a realistic, tiny world and a surprisingly exciting tale. The Borrowers live on in ISBN 0152047328 The Borrowers Afield, ISBN 0152047336 The Borrowers Afloat, ISBN 0152047344 The Borrowers Aloft, ISBN 015204731X The Borrowers Avenged and ISBN 0152632212 Poor Stainless: A Story About the Borrowers. The illustrations, by Beth and Joe Krush, are interesting. For the most part, they're not attractive drawings. The Borrowers and the boy are drawn well, while the other humans resemble apes more than humans. This must be intentional, but I just don't find these images a pleasant addition to the book. Still, they somewhat satisfy the curiosity to see how the Borrowers live and how they use the items they borrow and to highlight the smallness of them against the size of the human world. For younger readers, 8 and up, this is probably best read to them (the British tone may be off-putting for them alone). Readers 11 and up will be fine on their own with this one - and adults will enjoy it too!