The Borrowers

Book review by
Megan Potter, Common Sense Media
The Borrowers Book Poster Image
Parents recommend
Classic tale a bit slow but retains its appeal.

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 8 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

The relationship between Arriety and the human boy is an inspiring one that encourages readers to look past differences. Those who are able to do so grow and develop into more mature characters that don’t live their lives guided by prejudices.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Arriety’s natural curiosity and hunger for freedom are often considered negative characteristics in a Borrower’s eyes – especially for her father. Trapped in a world that is seemingly too small for Arriety, her fearless character dares to dream and think outside the box. Her father, Pod, is a lot more skeptical when it comes to the idea of freedom but it is revealed that this fear of uninhibited exploration is for good measure. Pod makes risky sacrifices every day to provide for his family. Homily, Arriety’s mother, makes similar sacrifices but her fixation on material things often puts her family in precarious positions.

Violence & Scariness

When the Borrower’s presence is made known, Mrs. Driver calls the rat catcher to exterminate them. She also tells the boy to watch as Arriety and her parents are about to be forced out of their home by smoke.


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this classic tale retains its appeal, but some children may find it slow. Fear of capture makes the borrowing expeditions tense. The occasional black-and-white line art helps to make the tiny Borrowers more real for the young reader. Detailed descriptions of how the Borrowers use everyday objects bring the reader's imagination to life.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byTracy C. August 30, 2016

Not the best

I'm halfway through this book with the kids and I am tempted to stop. The kids are not into it it is actually pretty slow and boring to be perfectly honest... Continue reading
Adult Written bySarah Y. March 29, 2020

A great first book - read them all

I read this aloud to my sons who are 8 and 13 and they really enjoyed it. Obviously, they can both read, but the language is a bit difficult and it helped my 8... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old May 12, 2019
Kid, 11 years old March 22, 2019


To be honest, I didn’t like it at all. It was boring, and I never got interested. Because I had to read it for school, I had to read the whole thing, but otherw... Continue reading

What's the story?

Borrowers are tiny people who live under the floorboards and survive by borrowing from the big people in the house. When the Clocks are discovered by the big people, they must find a new home before the exterminator gets them. This classic has survived for half a century because it charms young and old alike.

Is it any good?

While Mrs. May is recounting the wondrous tale of her brother's encounter with the Clock family to young Kate, your child will be equally enthralled. The descriptions of how the family uses our everyday trinkets fascinate children and often inspire them to create their own Borrower homes. Don't be surprised if, after the book is finished, you find your children crawling around the house looking for their own Borrowers.

Though it's often imitated in both books and movies, no one has ever managed to duplicate the appeal of Norton's infusion of magic into the everyday. Something about her cleverness and matter-of-fact style, and the humdrum lives to which the Borrowers aspire, makes the whole thing seem so plausible that it's hard to believe there aren't Borrowers scuttling through the walls and floors of your own home.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the how the Borrowers make what we view as everyday objects seem unique and wondrous. What are some of the objects that fascinate them? How do they use the objects differently than we do?

Book details

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