Guess I'm in a bit of a nostalgic mood this week. Or maybe trick or treating reminded me of childhood days...
I've already blogged about George S. MacDonald who was one of my favorite childhood authors.
Mary Norton (1903-1992) was another.
She wrote THE BORROWERS series in the 1950s and 60s.
I had long been obsessed with the idea of wee folk (pixies, brownies, faeries, and so on).
But Mary's characters were different.
They were much more like us-with names ALMOST like ours. Take the Clock family for example: Homily. Pod. Arriety. Mary was brilliant.
They had no wings or magical powers. In fact, Borrowers were terrified of us, "human beans". Being "seen" by one of us was an event that could, and did, have catastrophic consequences.
They lived with us-only we didn't know it. Again, brilliant.
They "borrowed" food, and other things too. Paper clips to use as grappling hooks, wooden spools to sit on, cigar boxes for beds. Arriety had to do her lessons with an ENORMOUS pencil.
THE BORROWERS had everything a wonderful (children's) book should have-
Great characters who are funny, lovable, interesting, scary
Enough danger and adventure to make "that's all for tonight" the worst words in the world
Series potential-although I have to say none of the books was as good as the first
A world the reader wants to be part of - and here the parallel world, in miniature, is such a great hook
It had great illustrations too, which were like doodles, and rewarded careful scrutiny.
This is Pod paying a visit to Aunt Sophy, also known as "Her". She had a penchant for Madeira which made her believe Pod was a hallucination. When she was all liquored up, Pod could "borrow" whatever he liked, and not even worry about being "seen". Love the chamber pot under the bed.
THE BORROWERS was also responsible for my first bad boy crush.
Spiller was the type of Borrower who lived outside, which was akin to living on the wrong side of the tracks. He was wild, and made his own rules.
He and Arriety had a bit of an adversarial relationship-but I think she liked the way he challenged her and persuaded her try new adventures.
Below is Robert Sheehan, who played Spiller in the movie version. If I'd been fourteen year old Arriety I would have totally gone for him.
Note to Self: Inspired by Bad Boys. Future Thursday's Children post.
And speaking of the movie version-the one with John Goodman.
Though unlike the book in significant ways. I enjoyed it anyway, but as its own thing.
It did provide a line that I'm quite fond of, (it was Pod's originally, his response to Arriety's plea to go "borrowing" with him).
Said with an English accent, à la Jim Broadbent, "No. No. And again. NO."
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