Book Review: The Borrowers by Mary Norton


Well, July is in full swing and that “summer vacation” feeling is in the air! I stated in my last post that I often gravitate toward middle grade and young adult books in the summer. I chose The Borrowers as my July book bucket list pick for this very reason. I figured that I would probably be in the mood for something light and imaginative, and I have wanted to revisit this childhood favorite for some time. It seemed like the timing would be perfect, and it was.

If you’re unfamiliar with just who or what borrowers are, please let me fill you in. You know how things around the house always seem to go missing? Small things, like safety pins or crochet hooks that you know you had “right here” or “only yesterday” but suddenly can’t seem to find anywhere? Well, chances are that when this happens, it’s because the borrowers, teeny tiny people who live in your house, have simply borrowed them for their own needs.

In The Borrowers, Mary Norton introduces us to a family of borrowers, the Clock family. The family consists of Pod (the father), Homily (the mother), and their daughter, Arrietty. The Clock family got their name because the entrance to their tiny, hidden home is behind the grandfather clock in the main part of the house. Pod, as the head of the house, sneaks out from time to time to “borrow” whatever the family needs – blotting paper, stamps, potatoes, you name it!

One day, as Pod is teaching Arrietty how to borrow, Arrietty wanders off a bit to wave to her mother through the grating and is seen by a human boy. Adventures ensue from the sighting. The Clocks must figure out who they can trust and what they will do if the boy tells others about them, their home is discovered or, worst case scenario, the owners of the big house get a cat!

I loved this book growing up, and I loved it upon my re-read. As a child, I simply thought the story was fun and wondered if borrowers could be real. As an adult, I enjoyed the detailed descriptions of the Clock family home and how they used so many tiny human trinkets as their furnishings. I loved that Arrietty enjoyed reading and writing. I think she’s a great role model for young readers. I loved her sense of adventure, her bravery, and her desire to care for her family.

All in all, The Borrowers is a creative, beautifully written story. It remains a classic for me. Even as an adult, I still occasionally catch myself smiling at the thought of borrowers when I can’t find something that was “right here a minute ago.”

If you’re looking for a good book for an early reader or for a chapter-a-night kind of book, I highly recommend The Borrowers. This is the first book in a series Norton wrote about these extraordinary tiny people.

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