Illustrated by Beth and Joe Krush
Arrietty Clock and her parents, Pod and Homily, live underneath the kitchen floor. They are borrowers. Borrowers "borrow" things from the humans who live in the house, they don't steal. They take all sorts of things and turn them into something useful for them. Blotting paper is used as carpet in the Clocks' house. Children's mittens are cut up and turned into hats. The Borrowers are small enough that the doll house furniture, plates, and utensils are the perfect size for their little house! At the beginning, Pod is the only one who borrows from the Clock family, but once he is "seen" by the boy, Pod and Homily decide they need Arrietty to learn how to borrow just in case something happens to them. Only Arrietty is "seen" by the boy the first time she goes out! She talks to the boy though and they soon become friends, much to the dismay of her family. When the other humans in the house find out about the Borrowers, they try to capture and kill them because they took so many of their things. Will the Clock family survive the humans trying to get them?
This book starts out with Kate and Mrs. May. Mrs. May is telling a story about the Borrowers to Kate. While they discuss the Borrowers, Kate tries to figure out whether or not they could be real. She says that they must be real
Because of all the things that disappear. Safety pins, for instance. Factories go on making safety pins, and every day people go on buying safety pins and yet, somehow, there never is a safety pin just when you want one. Where are they all? Now, at this minute? Where do they go to? Take needles, all the needles my mother ever bought--there must be hundreds--can't just be lying about this house. (p. 5)I thought this was cool to see that this little girl was trying to figure out why all these things disappear from her house.
I was confused about the end of the book though. Kate and Mrs. May are talking about whether or not the Borrowers could be real and Mrs. May says she read about Arrietty in one of the books Arrietty had in her house. Mrs. May says that the book doesn't prove that the Borrowers are real because "Arrietty used to make her 'e's like little half-moons with a stroke in the middle" and her "brother did too" (p. 180). I was confused about whether Mrs. May actually thought they were real or know. Arrietty had been teaching the boy how to read by reading to him. But maybe she thought that the boy (her brother) had been writing the story himself. So I don't really know!
There have been many movies created based on this book. This year, a Japanese version of the movie came to the US, in English. It is called The Secret World of Arrietty. It's a cartoon version of the other movie. It looks cute, but I'm more a fan of the earlier movie.