What to read after... The Borrowers

Published on: 20 April 2020

Tiny people living under clocks, in mouse holes and behind mantelpieces… Mary Norton’s classic children’s book is full of nostalgia and the agreeable strangeness of the familiar seen from an unusual perspective. If your child adored The Borrowers’ world, what to read after?

The Borrowers by Mary Norton

Tomiko Inui’s The Secret of the Blue Glass translated into English by Ginny Tapley Takemori is a gentle tale that will surely remind many readers of The Borrowers. In a high sunlit corner of the little library in the Moriyama house in Tokyo live the Little People. The Ashe family are just a few inches tall, living in a home built from books and matchboxes. The children of the big house look after them, delivering milk every day in a special blue glass goblet. But then World War Two clamps its jaws shut on the city: the Moriyama household is turned upside down and the Little People must figure out new ways to survive in this flipped over world.

Alternatively, fans of The Borrowers may enjoy Stephen Davies’ Hilda and the Hidden People in which we are introduced to Hilda and her mum, living in the middle of the Icelandic forest, and the elves that they find living around them. In Ross Montgomery’s Max and the Millions Max discovers a tiny civilisation in the pile of sand on the caretaker’s floor. It’s a miniature world at war: three bickering tribes, nonsensically segregated according to hair colour. For slightly yojnger readers, Teacup House: Meet the Twitches tells the story of a family of miniature toy rabbits living in a teacup who come alive when no-one is looking…

If you’re looking for other children’s classics featuring grand old houses, Dodie Smith’s I Capture The Castle is excellent for kids leaving primary school or starting secondary; Piers Torday’s The Lost Magician starts in classic style in a 1940s mansion and finds a group of brothers and sisters discovering a portal to another world. Judith Eagle’s The Secret Starling also begins in a crumbling mansion - and features an evil uncle and a mystery to solve.

Or, for classic tales with a hit of strange magic, there’s E Nesbit’s Five Children and It, Ted Hughes’ The Iron Man (a delightful new version illustrated by Chris Mould), Into The Jungle with tales inspired by The Jungle Book by Katherine Rundell and grandly illustrated by Kristjana S Williams or Caryl Hart’s verse retelling of Peter Pan, illustrated by Sarah Warburton. Not forgetting Michael Morpurgo’s Boy Giant which merges the story of a refugee with the classic story of Gulliver.

Last, for younger fans of miniature characters, Melissa Castrillon’s Mighty Min is a beautiful picture book about a tiny girl who lives in a miniature house at the bottom of the garden with her four aunts, and Emily Hawkins and Lucy Letherland’s Atlas of Miniature Adventures is an engrossing read for fans of the wee and tiny.

Join in!

Now it's your turn! You've read our recommendations, but which books do you think are perfect for fans of The Borrowers? Maybe you've just found a story your children love, or remember a tale from your childhood that fits the bill perfectly. Let us know by leaving your comments below or by tweeting us @BookTrust, using the hashtag #WhatToReadAfter...


BookTrust HomeTime

Looking for something fun as a family? Enjoy storytime with our free online books and videos, play games, win prizes, test your knowledge in our book-themed quizzes, or even learn how to draw some of your favourite characters.

Go to the HomeTime hub