The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Mary Norton, English actress, playwright, and award-winning author, tells in a four-book series the engrossing fantasy of miniature people known as Borrowers. They are so called because they live by “borrowing,” for their own use, lost or discarded items around a house, such things as scraps of food, dropped needles and pins, matches or candles that have fallen behind a chest, dollhouse furniture, or half of a pair of broken scissors—things that people know they have but simply cannot find at the moment.

The four books in the Borrowers series actually compose one continuous story in four episodes. The first book, The Borrowers, establishes the parameters of the fantasy, introduces the central family, describes the under-the-kitchen-floor setting, and reveals some of the conflicts and challenges that confront the family daily. The three following books in the series relate further adventures of the inches-high people as they search for a place where they may live undisturbed by “human beans.”

The Borrowers begins as Mrs. May tells young Kate the fanciful story of the little people her brother, Tom, had made up—if indeed he had made them up. Pod, Homily, and Arrietty belong to the Clock family of Borrowers, so named because they enter and leave their home under the kitchen floor through a hole at the base of a grandfather clock. They must find a new residence because Pod, the father, has had the misfortune of being seen by a human, “the boy” who is sick abed in Firbank Hall, the home occupied by old Aunt Sophie and Mrs. Driver, the housemaid. Moreover, Arrietty, the Borrower daughter, has even dared to talk to the boy. Although his kindness in bringing them useful things and even offering to let them live in the dollhouse upstairs shows that he is no...

(The entire section is 739 words.)