'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.' - author Jackie French

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Vintage Book Review: The Borrowers

As a child, I was entranced by the idea that tiny people could be living in my home, 'borrowing' from my family what they needed. As an adult, I still find the idea delightful — plus, it's a useful explanation for when a sock somehow goes missing in the wash: 'the borrowers' took it!

It seems I'm not alone in my love for Mary Norton's classic tale of the Clock family — fourteen-year-old Arrietty and her parents Homily and Pod — who live under the floorboards of an English house and borrow what they need from the 'human beans' who live above.

First published in 1952, the illustrations of Beth & Joe Krush were added to the book in 1953 when it was published by Harcourt Brace. It's been continuously in print ever since and gave rise to four sequels: The Borrowers Afield, The Borrowers Afloat, The Borrowers Aloft and The Borrowers Avenged. It's also been captured on screen in several TV productions and two films, the most recent a delightful Japanese animated version in 2010 called The Secret World of Arrietty.

With its feisty, independent heroine, beautifully imagined world, and adventure-filled storyline, The Borrowers might have already celebrated its 60th birthday, but I'm hopeful it will continue to attract new readers for many decades to come.

Title: The Borrowers
Author: Mary Norton
Illustrators: Beth & Joe Krush
Publisher: Harcourt Brace, $34.00 RRP
Publication Date: October 1953
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9780152099879
For ages: 9–12
Type: Middle Fiction

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