Long before there were Littles or anyone shrunk their children, Mary Norton had written this warm and wonderful series about a race of tiny people who live hidden in quiet country houses and "borrow" their livings from the human inhabitants. Their lives depend on remaining unseen and unsuspected.
But little Arietty Clock, who lives with her parents (Pod and Homily) is a naturally curious girl and lonely besides. When, on her very first trip out to Borrow ("The Borrowers," 1952), she is "seen" by a little human boy, she becomes friends with him and sets off a chain of events that will threaten her family's very existence -- and make staying in their home beneath the kitchen floorboards impossible.
In this second tale (1955), Pod, Homily, and Arietty set off across country, searching for long-lost relatives in the hopes of finding a new home and a new life. Despite the dangers (owls, badgers, insects, etc.), Arietty loves the freedom of living outdoors in the sunshine and fresh air. They set up housekeeping in an old boot and soon meet Spiller, a half-wild huntsman Borrower, who has the knack of showing up in the very nick of time to provide food, news -- and help. But they are reminded of their vulnerability when the gypsy Mild Eye finds and traps them. Pod and Homily, having no other option, must go against all of their instincts in order to survive....
With her "Borrowers" series, Mary Norton accomplished what few writers are able to do: she created a group of characters that become real through her words; and a fantasy world that is so realistic that readers young and old will be lost in it, and will look at their own world differently forever after. Though each stands alone, the first four tales read as fluidly as if they are all parts of one larger book -- indeed, they have been published as a single volume in the past -- and can be read consecutively without excessive and tiresome rehashing of the previous plots.
The books are billed by booksellers as written for 8-10 year olds, but they are ideal for reading aloud to younger children; and adults too will enjoy the sheer fun they contain. I first read them when I was ten -- long before "Avenged" was written and answered my longstanding questions about the Borrowers' fate. All five books remain in my reading cycle, to be reread every few years in their entirety. By stages funny, thrilling, and poignant, these lovely books will capture your imagination and keep you turning pages all the way to the end.