The Borrowers by Mary Norton ; illustrated by Beth and Joe Krush
New York : Harcourt, Brace & Company, 1953. First American edition, first printing. Stated "First Edition" on the copyright page. Hardcover. 180 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm. In original $2.50 dust jacket, however, a significant portion of the jacket front side lower portion are missing, as well as an inch off the head and tail of the jacket spine. Rubber stamp on the front end paper, copyright, and the dedication page as well. Light storage smell to pages. No markings within the text block. Binding is firm.
There are not many Borrowers left, for the rush of modern life does not suit them. They like to live in quiet, out-of-the-way, country houses where things move in an orderly, well-established pattern and there is little chance for surprise. In just such a house lived Pod and Homily and their daughter Arrietty—the Clock family, so-called because the entrance to their apartment was under the grandfather clock that had stood undisturbed in the hall and guarded their family's threshold for two hundred years. Homily was proud of their home. Portraits of Queen Victoria hung on the sitting-room walls; these were postage stamps borrowed by Pod from a stamp box in the large world upstairs. There was a useful chest of drawers made of match boxes, and the floor was carpeted with cheerful red blotting paper. The kitchen, too, was comfortable and convenient— with plenty of hot water, thanks to a small hole Pod had made in the hot-water pipe. All Homily need do was pull a rubber per-fume-bottle stopper out of the hole, and in no time at all the tin lid of an aspirin bottle, which she used as a washbasin, filled up.
Despite the comforts of their home, the Borrowers were always a little frightened, for if they were seen by human beings, disastrous things might happen. Uncle Hendreary had been "seen" on the drawing-room mantelpiece by a maid, so a cat had been brought into the house and Uncle Hendreary had to emigrate—with what remained of his family—to a badger's hole in the field. It was with real alarm, therefore, that Pod and Homily learned of Arrietty's longing to explore the world upstairs. But on a fine spring day Pod overcame his reluctance and took her with him on an expedition. While he was borrowing fibers from the hall doormat to make a new brush for Homily, Arrietty ventured outside—and there, on a grassy bank under the apple tree, she met the boy. A grand-nephew of the bedridden mistress of the house, he had lately arrived to recuperate from rheumatic fever.
From the first page of this memorable story the reader is drawn into the complete though miniature world of the Borrowers and lives in its reality—through the early days of friendship between Arrietty and the boy, to the almost fatal results of the unfriendly housekeeper's dawning comprehension that "something is going on."
This distinguished book, first published in England, was awarded the Carnegie Medal as the outstanding children's book of 1952. American readers, both young and 'old, will acclaim The Borrowers, and it will make an enduring place for itself in the literature of this country.
Mary Norton's first love was the theatre, and in the days of Lilian Baylis she was a member of the "Old Vic" Shakespeare Company. She gave up acting, however, upon her marriage with Robert C. Norton, whose family — shipowners - had been resident in Portugal since the end of the Napoleonic wars. There, where her home was in the depths of the country and rather isolated by bad roads, she began to write. There, too, her children—two boys and two girls—were born. For the last ten years Mrs. Norton has lived in a little eighteenth-century house in the Chelsea district of London. She still acts occasionally but spends more time with her writing—for the theatre and radio as well as for children. Joshua Logan and Leland Hayward currently hold an option on one of her plays. The Borrowers, published last year in England, has been awarded their Library Association Carnegie Medal as the most distinguished book of 1952.
Here is tvhat some of the reviewers say about The Borrowers:
"The Borrowers is a fantasy that brings to mind such impressive titles as The Water Babies, The Wind in the Willows and even Alice in Wonderland. Beautifully detailed, it concerns little people—not brownies or fairies but real people who are only about six inches high and make their way through life by borrowing from the monsters they refer to as 'human beans' ... a charming story, beautifully written, to which children respond at once." —JANE COBB, The New York Times Book Review
"If you want the most satisfying read-aloud book of the season, a fascinating and imaginative tale for the entire family, do not deprive yourself of The Borrowers."—STERLING NORTH, IV. Y. World-Telegram and Sun
"A memorable piece of writing for children." —The New Yorker
"As by a fresh breeze in a world of stern reality, the reader is caught up in a miniature world of fantasy. . . . The magic and charm of the writing convince children and grown-ups, too, that Borrowers really do exist. Utterly captivating illustrations by Beth and Joe Krush." —HELEN M. BROGAN, Library Journal
"This is a rare and delicious addition to children's literature and deserves to take its place on the shelf of undying classics with Mary Poppins, Christopher Robin, and the other monuments." —Louisville Courier-Journal
"An entirely original and enchanting new fantasy. ... The world of the Borrowers is created with humor out of a perfection of matter-of-fact and consistent details, making a book that begs to be shared." —VIRGINIA HAVILAND, The Horn Book
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