Welcome to our Anniversary Blog by resident blogger Jake Hope. Jake will be reading and reviewing all of the past CILIP Carnegie Medal winning books during the anniversary year. We are also asking shadowers to "Adopt a Book" and join in reading and discussing the anniversary titles in their shadowing groups.

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"They thought human beings were just invented to do the dirty work – great slaves put there for them to use. At least, that’s what they told each other. But my brother said that, underneath, he thought they were frightened. It was because they were frightened, he thought, that they had grown so small. Each generation had become smaller and smaller, and more and more hidden. In the olden days, it seems, and in some parts of England, our ancestors talked quite openly about the “little people”"

The Borrowers

Carnegie winner: 1952
Author: Mary Norton

It’s hard to imagine some books ever being seen as anything other than a classic.  The Borrowers is one such title.  The idea of a largely unseen, but nonetheless ever-present magic and wonder that provides insight into secret worlds is almost irresistible as a concept.

Perhaps in the past you have lost a thimble, a safety pin or a piece of blotting paper… rather than just being mislaid, maybe, just maybe, they have been collected by a race of tiny people and put to another equally imaginative and inventive use.  In this book we are given a tantalising glimpse into a fully formed world in miniature, peopled by individuals with their own motivations, ambitions and concerns.  Pod, Homily and Arrietty Clock, so called because the entrance to their home lies behind the clock, are the family at the centre of this book action packed, family adventure that is punctuated by reflective and familial passages.

Arietty is the daughter of Pod and Homily and it is her intrigue and curiousity that forms the base for many of the adventures and action that occur through the book whether that be accompanying her father on borrowing trips or forging a friendship with the Boy, a human bean.  The relationship between Borrowers and human beans and the uncertainty about whether the story being told is true, or has been created to stimulate wonder and intrigue means readers are never quite certain where memory, fantasy and imagination begin and end.

Arietty’s gradual exploration of the house during borrowing escapades with her father and the move beyond its confines into the garden act as a metaphor for childhood and the shifting boundaries from the insular to the wider world.  The story lends a different perspective, one devoid of the usual and the logical, offering a worm’s eye view on the everyday and offering a fresh way to look out on the world.

A tale of tiny people that makes a big impression! This richly imaginative fantasy set in the familiar environment of an everyday household provides a sharply focused, warmly humorous lens on the gradual maturation from childhood to adulthood.


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