Rereading: THE BORROWERS ALOFT by Mary Norton

The fourth book in the charming Borrowers series, published in 1961, is framed differently than the previous ones. We have left behind Kate and Miss May. Instead we begin with retired railroad man Mr. Pott and his model railroad exhibit, for which he enjoys building an entire village. The railroad is open to the public, we heard about it in the previous book, The Borrowers Afloat, as a hoped-for destination for Pod, Homily and Arrietty, our family of tiny people. Miss Menzies is a friend of Mr. Pott who helps him with the exhibit and visitors, and she reports that one of the cottages in the village is inhabited, we know by whom. Once again, young Arrietty disobeys Borrower rules and begins talking to Miss Menzies.

Meanwhile, across the river, Mr. and Mrs. Platter have a rival model railroad, copying the idea from Mr. Pott, and enjoying the money they make from visitors. To keep up with his competition, Mr. Platter regularly spies on the Pott village from his boat, and when he learns of the tiny people living there, he’s sure his exhibit is all washed up. Unless, as Mrs. Platter suggests, they can steal the tiny people for their own village.

The Platters succeed, and make Pod, Homily and Arrietty prisoners in their attic while they build a house/prison for them to be used the following summer. Finally we learn how our Borrowers are handling all this (not well at first) and how they plan to escape. A clue is in the cover image above.

Just as enjoyable as the previous books, well written, with great characters and plot. This was meant to be the end of the series, but one more followed years later.


Rereading: THE BORROWERS AFLOAT by Mary Norton

Cover illustration by Beth and Joe Krush

The third book of the charming Borrowers series, first published in 1959, begins like the first two with a framing sequence featuring Kate and Mrs. May, still visiting the cottage Mrs. May is buying, where Kate has been hearing about the Borrower family, father Pod, mother Homily and daughter Arrietty from old Tom Goodenough. Tom was the boy with the ferret in the first book, and lived in this cottage since his boyhood. At the end of The Borrowers Afield, Tom rescued the three tiny people from the gypsy Mild Eye, and brought them to this cottage, where their relatives, the Hendreary family, was already living in the wall.

Pod, Homily and Arrietty are at first warmly welcomed by their relatives, there are six of them, and given two sparse “rooms” to live in above the Hendreary home, but tensions soon rise, as Pod finds his borrowing curtailed, Homily’s old dislike of Hendreary’s wife Lupy returns, and Arrietty misses being outdoors. Arrietty once again turns to talking to the human Tom, something Borrowers are not supposed to do. In the end, their wild Borrower friend Spiller gives them a way to escape, and takes them to his home in an old teakettle at the edge of the nearby stream. For a while things go well until there’s a flood.

Just as much fun as the previous books, recommended. The illustrations are great, too.

And Then I Read: JIMMY OLSEN #10

Image © DC Comics. Written by Matt Fraction, art by Steve Lieber, colors by Nathan Fairbairn, letters by Clayton Cowles.

It’s been a while since I’ve been able to enjoy this wacky series, and I’ve missed it. Jimmy continues to mire himself in all kinds of craziness and trouble, but in this issue we discover at least some of it isn’t his fault. Jimmy is apparently married to Jinx, an interdimensional jewel-thief, who in the opening segment is demoing her abilities on a live video with Jimmy to Perry White. Since she is not actually stealing jewels, he’s not impressed. Then a demon and an army of robots show up to claim Jinx, but can’t get past some bananas. A series of flashbacks fill us in on who’s really out to kill Jimmy and why, and then Jimmy decides he has to head out alone to fix things.

Great stuff, funny and clever in every way. Recommended.

And Then I Read: THE BLUE HAWK by Peter Dickinson

Peter Dickinson’s books cover a wide range of genres, styles and topics, but he can be depended on to craft a vivid world, fine characters, and a gripping story. This is no exception.

Tron is a young priest in an ancient kingdom resembling Egypt, but one where the gods they worship (unique to this story) have great power through their many priests and perhaps actual power as well. In contrast, the kings and other royalty have lost much of their power to the priests. As the story opens, Tron is at a ceremony of renewal for the King in the Temple of Gdu, his own sect, and he’s given a vision and task he feels is from the god Gdu. A Blue Hawk is on the dais with the King and priests. Tron has been designated The Goat, meaning anything he decides to do can’t be questioned. Tron leaves his fellows, goes up on the dais, and takes the Blue Hawk onto his arm and out of the temple. One consequence of this, he soon finds out, is that the King must die, as he overhears the head priests discuss how it will be done. Tron is troubled by this, but sure of his vision. Tron is tasked with training the Blue Hawk, and taken to a remote, empty temple to do that. He and the hawk bond, as they learn together.

While there, Tron meets the new King, son of the one he sent to death, and surprisingly, they become friends. The young King enlists Tron’s help in keeping his throne, and wresting power from the priests, in whom Tron has lost faith. He becomes the King’s secret partner, entering with him the hidden passages throughout the temples and palace. The King sends Tron on a perilous journey down the mighty river that waters the desert kingdom, and Tron barely escapes going over a giant waterfall at the southern border. When he and the Blue Hawk manage to climb out of the river canyon, he finds new friends in the mountains and learns his journey is only beginning.


And Then I Read: THE DREAMING #20

Image © DC Comics. Written by Simon Spurrier, art by Bilquis Evely,
colors by Mat Lopes, letters by Simon Bowland,
cover by Yanick Paquette & Nathan Fairbairn.

The final issue of this run of The Dreaming has finally arrived digitally. If you haven’t read the 19 issues that came before, there’s no point in starting here. If you have, I think you’ll find it a satisfying conclusion. As expected, writer Simon Spurrier has returned the main players to where he found them, but it’s been an enjoyable ride. His new character Dora gets a good send-off to adventures elsewhere, and the rest of the cast each have their moments. Dream himself is also at last on the scene once more. I’ve enjoyed the writing and art, particularly the art of Bilquis Evely, but everyone rose to the occasion including colorist Mat Lopes and letterer Simon Bowland. Nicely done all around.