The Borrowers Series Critical Essays

Mary Norton


(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Stories of little people are common in folklore around the world. Jonathan Swift’s narrative of the Lilliputians in Gulliver’s Travels (1726), Lewis Carroll’s 1865 account of a diminutive Alice in Wonderland, and the legends of the leprechauns of Ireland, to mention but a few, have stirred the imagination of generations of readers. None of these stories has pricked the fancy more than Mary Norton’s fantasy of the little people known as Borrowers. In style and subject, her stories are children’s literature at its best, capitalizing on children’s natural love for imaginative play, or fantasy. The series (collected as The Borrowers Omnibus, 1966; titled for U.S. publication as The Complete Adventures of the Borrowers, 1967) occupies a firm place among the classics of children’s literature alongside such notable works as Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows (1908), L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900), J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit: Or, There and Back Again (1937), and the ever-popular masterpiece of C. S. Lewis, the Chronicles of Narnia (1950-1956).

All the books in the Borrowers series have won notable awards. The Borrowers was an immediate success, quickly winning the Carnegie Medal, the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award, and the American Library Association Distinguished Book Award. The Borrowers Afield, The Borrowers Afloat, and The Borrowers Aloft each won designation as an American Library Association Notable Book. The Borrowers Aloft and The Borrowers Afloat were in addition chosen by the New York Herald Tribune as Spring...

(The entire section is 687 words.)