Monday, February 1, 2010

Studio Ghibli Borrows The Borrowers

I’ve recently been re-reading the classic children’s book The Borrowers, by Mary Norton. It’s about a family of tiny people who live in a hole beneath a large clock in a bedridden old woman’s house. They make their living by taking things from human beings, an activity that they call “borrowing”. Our matchboxes serve as dressers for them, a tureen is a bathtub, and coins are their plates. Of course, they also steal bits of food, but even tiny bread crumbs are quite substantial for them. The author suggests that Borrowers are a more contemporary version of the magical race traditionally referred to as “little people”. However, when the daughter of the tiny family, who is named Arrietty, is asked if she is a fairy, she flatly denies it and even claims that she doesn’t believe in them!
Arrietty forms a secret friendship with a human boy who was sent to the house to recuperate from rheumatic fever. Being “seen” by people often leads to Borrowers being chased out of their homes by cats and unsympathetic adults, so Arrietty’s parents are naturally very upset by this turn of events. Unfortunately, the humans in this novel do not prove themselves to be an exception to this rule. Several sequels to The Borrowers involve the tiny family having to relocate to less hospitable habitats, including a tea kettle located precariously near a river!
By coincidence, I found out that an upcoming Studio Ghibli movie happens to be based on The Borrowers. For those of you not familiar with Ghibli, it is a wonderful animation studio headed by Hiyao Miyazaki. It is the Japanese equivalent of Disney and is responsible for such brilliant children’s films as My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki’s Delivery Service. The new movie will be called Karigurashi no Arrietty and is scheduled for summer, 2010. I’ve included an image of a promotional poster for the upcoming film. If you go to see it, don’t forget to share your popcorn with the Borrowers that are surely under the seats of your local movie theater!
--Joelle Mellon


  1. Do you know a US theatre I can go to see this production or other similar animated foreign films, or do I have to wait to get the movie on DVD through the internet?

  2. My aunt (who was obsessed with all things tiny) will be thrilled to hear of this! She was in love with The Borrowers when she was a child. *^_^* And I love Ghibli! Thanks for bringing it up!

  3. Disney has a contract to release most of Ghibli's films in the US.

  4. I LOVE The Borrowers and made by Ghibli it's certain to be a sweet watch. There was also a BBC dramatization when I was a kid which I adored. Thanks for the trip down memory lane ;)