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The Borrowers

(The Borrowers #1)

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  86,070 ratings  ·  1,772 reviews
Beneath the kitchen floor is the world of the Borrowers -- Pod and Homily Clock and their daughter, Arrietty. In their tiny home, matchboxes double as roomy dressers and postage stamps hang on the walls like paintings. Whatever the Clocks need they simply "borrow" from the "human beans" who live above them. It's a comfortable life, but boring if you're a kid. Only Pod is ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published April 1st 2003 by HMH Books for Young Readers (first published 1952)
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Average rating 4.03  · 
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 ·  86,070 ratings  ·  1,772 reviews

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I have noticed that most people who borrow books do it in the same way the borrowers do it - to keep them indefinitely! That is how I lost my cherished copy of this classic. My sense of ownership lost a battle with my sense of missionary reading promotion. And here we are - The Borrowers are forever lost to me, at least in a visual, tangible sense. I can of course still "see" them in my mind, endlessly panicking about me - a human bean, no less! - having discovered their secret.

Lovely story full
¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪SomeBunny Reads (Phoenix)•*¨*•♫♪
“...Borrower's don't steal."
"Except from human beings," said the boy.
Arrietty burst out laughing; she laughed so much that she had to hide her face in the primrose. "Oh dear," she gasped with tears in her eyes, "you are funny!" She stared upward at his puzzled face. "Human beans are for Borrowers - like bread's for butter!”

There are little people who live beneath the kitchen floor, inside the walls, behind cupboards and clocks: they call themselves the "Borrowers", because everything they need
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
I've had this book on my shelves for a few years, but I only got around to reading it after watching Studio Ghibli's gorgeous adaptation, 'The Secret World Of Arietty'. I wasn't sure what to expect, but what I got was a tougher, more tender novel than its premise - little people who live underfoot and steal everything they need from human beings - necessarily suggested.

This is a meticulous, honest book that doesn't condescend to its intended audience. The characters are all flawed, believable,
Mar 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
More than just loving the story in this book I liked the idea of it. You had people that were smaller than a child being intelligent and resourceful and they were taken seriously. What child wouldn't love that? Plus little people who make furniture out of buttons and thimbles - it's just too cute.
Day 17 of my Facebook 30 Day Book Challenge asks me to list the shortest book I've read, so here it is. I almost went with the Hobbit, but then I remembered The Borrowers. This is a book about a family of tiny people who live under the floorboards of a normal human home, surviving by pilfering stuff from the giants who inhabit it. I'd guess they are a few inches tall, so that's pretty short.

Certainly they weren't looking for the shortest book I have read in terms of number of pages, right?
Allison Tebo
Jan 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: buy, childrens
Since I was very young, I have been enamored with miniatures. Bugs Life, Tinkerbell, dollhouses – anything tiny has always tickled my fancy and the idea of something like, say, a leaf being used as a hammock is altogether magical to me. This method of shrinking our known world makes the most ordinary surroundings and implements truly magical.

And while the characters and dialogue are so British to the point of being (occasionally) stilted with the dialogue can even be a tad incomprehensible at
Aug 23, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
When I was in third grade, I was at the library with my dad and little sister. My dad asked me if I had a book to report on for summer reading, since we were there and everything.

The question blindsided me, so I said, "Yes."

I had not read the Borrowers, which I had checked out the week before. But I took the book and walked over to the library lady who was shelving books. I told her I wanted to report on this book I read for summer reading.

Now in those days, library summer reading was based
Charming! This story is charming and a lot of fun too. Little people living in a big English house. Sadly they are discovered. I enjoy how the story is told. Two woman are knitting a quilt together and the older begins to tell a tale that her brother told her. The brother was part of the story. This is the beginning and the end. Mary only gives us a hint of what really happened at the end. It makes for a sly story. This book brought me much joy. I will be reading more of this series.

The story
Jan 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing

I feel quite certain my mom read this to me when I was little, and that it made a big impression on me. I even remember naming one of my Barbies Egglatina! The story has has many wonderful aspects that many children will enjoy, such as the Borrowers being little people that live, hidden away, in our homes and "borrow" (steal? that is open to interpretation) things from us. If you miss a pencil, or postage stamp, and you feel quite sure you really *did* leave it *right there*--well,
I was the bane of my teachers in elementary school, because at that time there was so little fiction available for a speed reading ten year old who had finished every Nancy Drew (no Junior editions) written, any L.M. Montgomery books the little local library owned plus the ones from my GR.3 teacher's daughter's shelves, every series I could find... So my teachers ended up scrounging whatever fiction they thought might be appropriate from any grade. I was transfixed by The Borrowers. Still am!
Jun 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Wanda, Gundula
FRom BBC Radio 4 Extra:
Adaptation of the children's classic following the adventures of the tiny Clock family. Stars Clare Corbett.

Megan Agee
Feb 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Last book for February So cute! I loved The Secret World of Arrietty a little more than The Borrowers but the book was still so magical! I bought the whole series and I definitely want to read them all. ...more
Jan 30, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-hearts
My favorite parts are the description of the Borrowers' home and the possibility of discovery at the end. :)
I read pretty much constantly as a child, so I'm not sure how I missed out on this one until now, but I'm seriously bumming about that. I would have loved this as a kid.

It was such an imaginative story, and I can imagine that it's led many children over the years to wonder what was living in their houses with them. I especially loved that the way Mrs. May told the story of the Borrowers left the fact of their existence up to the reader. Those were my favorite kinds of stories as a kid. I went
Jun 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I regarded The Borrowers with merciless scorn when I was actually at the age where reading The Borrowers was appropriate--I found it boring. However, I have since come to love the adventures of Homily, Pod, Arriety, Spiller, and the Hendrearies. There are several Borrower books I believe--The Borrowers, The Borrowers Afield, The Borrowers Afloat, the Borrowers Aloft, and the Borrowers Avenged. The stories are as whimsical as can be, but Norton writes with Victorian edge and can make the mood ...more
Sophie Crane
Apr 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love the twists and myths of the Borrowers, often coming into actual life conversations, usually as an excuse for something going missing... which may not be far from reality after all. Seriously, whilst we may no longer be losing our thimbles, the remote control and the odd sock are still a mystery and may not be far away at all...
Deborah Pickstone
I haven't read this since.......a long time! A was a child, anyway. It's rather good and I hope it's still read by children - as well as much older children such as am I :)
Sep 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is a childhood must. Must. Absolute must. Something about the incredible creativity and wholesomeness of this book puts it on my most dear classics shelf next to Narnia, Pooh, Paddington, Betsy Tacy, Stuart Little, Five Children and It and Cowboy Small. The Borrowers is magical and creative and full of wonder and awe.

In many stories we talk about the power or genius coming from specific characters, events or actions. In Narnia we love Aslan and the story arc and values the inspire greatness
Jun 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
These books SOOOO appealed to me as a young girl, especially the alternative uses for all of their "borrowed" objects. I was forever creating little towns with their own stories in the vacant lot next door and I think that in Norton I found a kindred spirit who fed the fire of my already very active imagination. I may just have to go back and read these again for old times sake.
Holds up beautifully. I can't begin to describe how formative this series was for me as a child, and what a joy to go back to it now and discover all the magic still there. I first discovered this among the books at the Middelburg library, where there was a smallish selection of English-language children's books that I was zipping through, given that I didn't (and still don't) read Dutch very well. I was staying with my grandparents for some portion of the summer, and because of this book I ...more
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Oct 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
I remember reading this when I was a little girl. I was captivated. Little people living in your house? Who wouldn't love that?

This read was just as good. I kept thinking that this should be a must-read for kids, and that more teachers should choose this for their read aloud book after lunch. It's the story of the people who call themselves Borrowers, and they exist by borrowing things from the human people in the house. It's delightfully fun.
Kellyn Roth
Mar 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this when I was ten or eleven. It's a really neat idea.
Rebekah Sussex
I do absolutely love the premise of this book, but the actual reading experience I found rather boring. The idea of ‘the borrowers’ is so fun, however the plot and writing were much less engaging for me.
Nishita Patel
Sep 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
As I love my classics, and I remember giving this book a read a few years ago, I thought it'd be quite repetitive and i'd know what would happen very well. But unfortunately, I missed out a few key points. And after reading the book again, I absolutely enjoyed reading the book. The idea of the 'little people' and how they 'borrow' just makes the book more exciting, and allows the reader to dissolve in the fantasy. The way the story unfolds of how the fear of the 'big people' and how they manage ...more
Aug 07, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Tiny people live in your house! A tiny little girl and her parents live out their daily lives under the baseboards of an old house. They furnish their home with items "borrowed" from the larger home (the girl sleeps in a bed made from a cigar box). Although years ago there were many "Borrowers," there is only one family left. This is an odd story, with that dark sort of whimsey that has fallen out of favor since the second world war.
Apr 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's a long, long time since I read this, but I remember being enchanted with the story of the tiny creatures and especially the uses they find for the things they "borrow" from us, the Human Beans. There was a movie, I believe, a few years ago, but I haven't seen it. I would recommend the Borrowers series for any imaginative child.
Great re-read of this introduction to a childhood fav fantasy world of wee people living hidden beneath the floors within a large country home in England. Included for Bout of Books 17 and CFD's Award Winner Challenge reading , August 2016.
A quiet little (pun unintended) classic children's fantasy. What kid wouldn't like to imagine fifteen cm tall or lower people living under their floorboards, inside their walls, in their gardens and burrows, and sneaking around on their tables and dressers and mantelpieces and curtains?

It's a fairy tale that, to a child already so small in the big scary world, can seem plausible, for there to be people even smaller than they are, also surviving as best they can.

These miniature people, the
Jul 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
A charming book. I loved the framing of the story told by an old woman to a young girl that may...or may true. I know there are sequels and I don't know if I would read them because that framing was my favorite aspect of the story. Arrietty is an interesting blend of arrogance and naivety. The adults (except for the storyteller) are all, whether human or borrower sized, caricatures more than fully realized characters, but that tends to be true in a lot of fiction for children and does ...more
Reliving the enjoyment of this childhood favourite series of the wee people who live under the floors of a Victorian mansion in England. Must have been the introduction to my affinity for all things old ! And creative uses for household treasures....

Book 1 of this series.
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Best Fantasy Book...: The Borrowers (The Borrowers #1) by Mary Norton 3 12 Feb 22, 2016 06:22PM  
2015 Reading Chal...: The Borrowerrs by Mary Norton 1 13 Aug 16, 2015 12:36PM  
2015 Reading Chal...: The Borrowers by Mary Norton 3 20 May 23, 2015 06:04AM  
101 Books to Read...: Borrowers 6 14 Jan 01, 2015 07:10PM  
Books2Movies Club: Animated Films 03.1 - Arriety 1 40 Aug 04, 2014 05:28AM  

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Mary Norton (née Pearson) was an English children's author. She was the daughter of a physician, and was raised in a Georgian house at the end of the High Street in Leighton Buzzard. The house now consists of part of Leighton Middle School, known within the school as The Old House, and was reportedly the setting of her novel The Borrowers. She married Robert C. Norton in 1927 and had four ...more

Other books in the series

The Borrowers (5 books)
  • The Borrowers Afield (The Borrowers #2)
  • The Borrowers Afloat (The Borrowers #3)
  • The Borrowers Aloft (The Borrowers #4)
  • The Borrowers Avenged (The Borrowers #5)
“Mrs. May looked back at her. "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.” 62 likes
“...Borrower's don't steal."
"Except from human beings," said the boy.
Arrietty burst out laughing; she laughed so much that she had to hide her face in the primrose. "Oh dear," she gasped with tears in her eyes, "you are funny!" She stared upward at his puzzled face. "Human beans are for Borrowers - like bread's for butter!”
More quotes…