The Borrowers Aloft by Mary Norton

Classic Book

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

4 Stars

The Borrowers Aloft by Mary Norton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After being uprooted to escape danger more than once, the little Clock family—Pod, Homily, and their teenaged daughter Arrietty—have been settling into a comfortable life of borrowing in a miniature village. But a few human beings’ interest in the Clocks puts the family back in jeopardy in The Borrowers Aloft by author Mary Norton.

While I enjoyed the first two Borrowers’ books and two Borrowers’ movies back in my childhood, this is my first time reading this far into this classic children’s fantasy series. I think it’s my fondness for the characters, rather than the story, that made me like this fourth book as much as I did.

I got a bit tired during the early chapters with humans talking about the borrowers; the story’s focus could have turned to the borrowers themselves sooner. I was also a little disappointed about not getting to see Spiller until quite late in the book, though his significance concerning Arrietty snaps up a couple of notches. And the ending is a calm cliffhanger, not exactly a happy one, with a tearful (redundant?) promise from Arrietty that I found dissatisfying, anticlimactic, and maybe pointless.

Even so, it’s great how the Clocks work together, all three using their heads for the escape they need to make. Plus, I always like the thought-provoking tidbits in their conversations and reflections that truly show their borrower ideology. (Like, the fact that humans hunt humans absolutely appalls borrowers, which I 1000% understand.)

I’m hoping for a fulfilling series conclusion in the next and last book.
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Update after reading The Borrowers Avenged, the fifth and last book of the series:

I’d recommend either getting your hands on an original copy of Book Four, The Borrowers Aloft, or finding Book Four’s original conclusion online somewhere. Then let that original ending be The End.

A few more of my thoughts are here.

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Here’s my review of the first book in the series, The Borrowers.

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The Plums Hang High by Gertrude E. Finney

Biography

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

4 Stars

The Plums Hang HighThe Plums Hang High by Gertrude E. Finney

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Because her husband Jethro dreams of becoming a farmer in a new land, Hannah Maria sails with him from England to America. They imagine plucking down one of the storied American fortunes said to grow like plums on trees. But no one told the couple that… The Plums Hang High by author Gertrude E. Finney.

After stumbling upon and enjoying this book back in my adolescence and being deeply affected by an unexpected scene, I’ve wanted to revisit the book for years. But it was a long shot that I’d ever find a copy of it.

Was it a novel, a biography, or a biographical novel?

I couldn’t remember the title.

I couldn’t remember the author’s name.

I couldn’t remember the names of anyone in the book.

I remembered only one second of that one unexpected scene with clarity and…

maybe a redheaded woman on a blue cover with a barn or something?

It took a lot of digging through pictures of old Scholastic books on the internet, hoping to run into a book cover that would match the vague red and blue image in my head, before I came across this book. I was still rather unsure because there wasn’t any barn or house on the cover and the title still didn’t ring a bell.

Nonetheless, I was hopeful.

And maybe halfway or so through the book, I started to remember bits of what I was reading, making me more confident before I finally reached that one scene that’s stuck with me all these years—

The “long shot” hope I’d had all this time was a reality.

Stories Readers Love

How appropriate, considering this is the story of a family living and loving through ups and downs and persevering through setbacks and long odds. Aside from one line that rubbed me the wrong way this time around (Hannah Maria thinking she’s living part of her life like “a common gypsy”), I found about as much pleasure and inspiration reading this old-fashioned book as I did decades ago.

No, this isn’t my normal kind of book review, if it’s a review at all. But because, in a nutshell, reading is all about hope and inspiration for me, it’s well worth it to record such a hopeful and inspiring bookish journey.

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The Borrowers Afloat by Mary Norton

Classic Book

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

3 Stars

The Borrowers Afloat by Mary Norton

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Being borrowers who quietly depend on the giant human beings around can be tough, including when the human beings pack up and move away, leaving nothing behind to…borrow. The little Clock family—Pod, Homily, and their teenaged daughter Arrietty—is thus uprooted once more to face a new adventure in The Borrowers Afloat by author Mary Norton, illustrated by Beth and Joe Krush.

While I first read Books One and Two of this series back in my childhood, this was my first time reading Book Three. I enjoy the old-fashioned style of these classic tales as well as the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the borrowers. (Spiller is the best!)

Though I’m not sure how much I might have appreciated it as a child, I also like how there’s just enough conjecture and ambiguity from the human characters reflecting on these “past” stories of borrowers, leaving readers to decide how much to believe.

Or not.

Now, what I’m sure I wouldn’t have known better about as a child are this book’s uses of a term for a particular group of people—an old term that should fall out of use. Of course, you don’t know until you know, and hey, these novels portray all the anti-borrower villains as horrid caricatures, not just the villains of one culture or another. Doesn’t make the use of the old exonym okay, though.

Also, rather than a standalone adventure, it seems this story is mostly a bridge to connect the second and fourth books. Interludes that are just about traveling from A to B, rather than being about A and B themselves, tend not to be my favorites.

Even so, I’ll be going on to see what else I didn’t know as a child…

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Here’s my review of the next book in the series, The Borrowers Aloft.

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The Borrowers Afield by Mary Norton

Classic Book

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

The Borrowers Afield by Mary Norton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Now that they’ve been smoked out of the home they once had under a kitchen floor, the little Clock family—Pod, Homily, and their teenaged daughter Arrietty—must learn to survive in the daunting and unknown out-of-doors in The Borrowers Afield by Mary Norton, illustrated by Beth and Joe Krush.

Well! It’s been nearly thirty years since I first read this classic children’s fantasy novel, the second in a series. Some parts I remembered and plenty more I didn’t.

One line I like most is an early reflection from Arrietty, who’s long desired to see what lies beyond the kitchen floor and to learn to “borrow” items from human beings as male borrowers do: “Just because I was a girl, and not allowed to go borrowing, it doesn’t say I haven’t got the gift…”

Indeed, the Clock family has more to discover about their abilities and mettle out here in a world of birds, bugs, and weather, and how these family members truly feel about each other comes more to light in this book. I laughed out loud at some of the humor, and how happy I was to meet Spiller for the first time—again! I was waiting to bump into that fearless and field-smart little loner.

Now, the story calls a group of traveling people by an old term that should fall out of use. Of course, these novels portray all the anti-borrower villains as horrid caricatures, not just the villains of one culture or another. Doesn’t make the use of the old exonym okay, though. That was the only real hitch in the read for me.

The “no going back” theme resonates through the novel, and there’s some bittersweet longing at the end—which is actually a beginning. As the first two books are the only ones I read as a child, I’m looking forward to learning more about the Clocks (and hopefully Spiller?) in the following books.

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Here’s my review of the next book in the series, The Borrowers Afloat.

Meet Nadine C. Keels

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