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From The Reader Bookshelf… The Borrowers by Mary Norton

Written by Maisie Jeynes, 25th November 2021

As part of our ongoing work around The Reader Bookshelf, we've asked staff to share their thoughts about some of the inspirational texts in the collection.

This week, Mary Crotty, Programmes Coordinator at The Reader, tells us what The Borrowers by Mary Norton means to her.


Words by Mary Crotty

"Kate," she said after a moment, "stories never really end. They can go on and on and on. It's just that sometimes, at a certain point, one stops telling them." - The Borrowers by Mary Norton

A warm hug of a book. A story that indulges in the imaginative and the whimsical. The premise of this tale is one which lingers in that special place in our minds occupied by vague childhood memories and feelings. Even if you hadn't read this book as a child, I hadn't, it surely crossed your mind that the existence of tiny people, tiny animals, or tiny creatures living in your home would make your like infinitely better. What child doesn't want miniscule people scampering under their floorboards? Tiny friends who use dolls house furniture, who use cotton reels as stools, and use blotting paper as carpets.

In The Borrowers, we are plunged into the underground life of Pod, Homily and Arrietty Clock. A family comprised of an aging professional scavenger, a nervous but proud mother, and a slightly stifled daughter desperately in need of a friend and an adventure.

Now for the important questions. I want to know how the borrowers make a tiny working stove, how they cook their tiny meals and sit and eat their tiny dinners. This story endeavours to answer some of these questions, leaving the others a mystery. This in itself has the wonderful effect of letting the human imagination reach its own conclusions, ensuring that this story really does not end.

In summary, all round wholesome and fun vibes from this book. The 1997 movie is really good too. I remember watching Jim Broadbent, Celia Imrie, and John Goodman over and over. I think there must be something about the idea of tiny living beings that is perpetually appealing to a child's imagination. Equally, there is also something about seeing objects used in ways which they weren't intended to be used, bottle-tops as plates for example, that is incredibly creative and satisfying. Therefore, read at own risk of feeling comforted and gently inspired.


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