Feb 21

The harsh reality behind second hand book shops.Click for full image

Tom Noir Comments: Honestly, I’m rooting for the rat.
Published 1979

Actually, that cover IS a classical work of art!I would touch it without protective gloves.I've seen worse. Far, far, worse.Interesting, but I would still read it in public.Middlng: Neither awful nor awfully goodWould not like to be seen reading that!Awful... just awful...That belongs in a gold-lame picture frame!Gah... my eyes are burning! Feels so good!Good Show Sir! (Average: 8.26 out of 10)

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48 Responses to “The Borribles”

  1. Benny Vigan Madsen Says:

    What an awful title! What is that, a cross between “boring” and “horrible”?

  2. SI Says:

    That rat means business! He’s rolled up his sleeves!

  3. THX 1138 Says:

    Watch out – a rat can break your arm with one beat of its wing! What?

  4. Dead Stuff With Big Teeth Says:

    In eager anticipation of seeing The Secret of Arrietty, I presume this is a version of ‘The Borrowers’…for horrible people.

  5. Dead Stuff With Big Teeth Says:

    I’ll assume that the man-child is supposed to look swollen-headed and bubble-eyed. It’s the background that irks me. If that rat is anything less than cat-sized, the window is less than knee-height off the ground. The ceiling wouldn’t reach to a man’s waist. The whole thing is truly…borrible.

  6. Alessandra Kelley Says:

    I had this book. I read this book. I don’t have it any more.

    If I recall aright, the Borribles were sort of like evil hobbits, Peter-Pan runaway kids turned into vicious elfin thugs. The rats spoke in a stupid lisp (I can still remember “those howwible Bowwibles” — actual quote). They’re all unpleasant and they fight. The end.

    Yeah. A classic kids’ fairy-tale.

    The cover is pretty unpleasant. I really don’t want to contemplate that rat’s bottom.

  7. Jaouad Says:

    A classic of socialist children’s fiction, which has seen much better covers. China Miéville cites it as an influence.

  8. Rachel J Says:

    @Jaouad. But is “socialist children’s fiction” actually a genre?

  9. Jaouad Says:

    @Rachel J: Ooh, genre discussion! 😉 Maybe it’s a genre which comprises only this book?

  10. A.R.Yngve Says:

    The book also became the musical BORRIBLE SIDE STORY, which bombed.

    When you’re a Rat, you’re a Rat all the way
    To your first piece of cheese to your last mousetrap slay…

  11. Graff Says:

    I seem to remember when the Borribles trilogy was out of print in the early 2000s, old copies like this were changing hands for idiot money on ebay. If that thing on the cover is what I think it is, it’s actually an evil Womble!

  12. fred Says:

    A fantasy cellar without cobwebs? Unthinkable.

  13. Phil Says:

    This is the violent scene they cut from Ratatouille.

  14. drlemaster Says:

    Art Direction: “I want a biggish rat fighting a smallish, vaguely-elfin boy, on a pile of books, in a basement. Think Nutcracker meets West Side Story. Just make sure the perspective is clear, we don’t want one of those covers where you can’t tell what size anything is supposed to be.”

  15. THX 1138 Says:

    It’s nice to see someone give a rat’s ass about this book cover…

  16. Ian Says:

    I think the rat has a nasty weapon. He is going to nail that kid.

  17. Jerk of all Trades Says:

    Unbeknownst to all, Master Splinter led a bouble life as an avid sewer-and-cellar fight club participant, and refused to fight in anything but the absolute nude.

  18. Jerk of all Trades Says:

    Also he had a really big ass for a rat.

  19. Alessandra Kelley Says:

    @Graff: Given that the rats were called “Rumbles,” and with their speech impediment it came out “Wumbles,” I would say you must be right …

    What is a “Womble”?

  20. THX 1138 Says:

    @Alessandra: These are the Wombles:

    A British pop culture behemoth in the 1970s which spanned music, TV shows, books, toys, a film and lots of picking up litter. They keep cropping up here and there, so they’ve never really gone away. Their theme tune, once heard, is never forgotten.

  21. Max Williams Says:

    This was one of my favourite books when i was a kid. The bad guys (the rat thing in the picture) are called the Wendles and are a dark take on the Wombles. A great book for 10-14 year olds i’d say.

  22. Smith Says:

    I’m the Daddy now, said the elfin faced nutcase.

  23. Graff Says:

    @Alessandra @THX: I suddenly feel really, really old!

  24. Alessandra Kelley Says:

    @Graff: Oh, don’t! It’s not age, it’s culture. I’m perfectly old enough for the Wombles. It’s just that I’m a Yank, and I had never, ever heard of them before.

    It was much easier to get British books than British TV back in the ’70s. Heck, if my English gran hadn’t given me a kid’s book of monsters-you-can-make, I wouldn’t have known about Daleks until high school.

  25. anon Says:

    That’s a rat? So, that’s a tail? I thought he has some major issues with parasites!

  26. Stevie T Says:

    Yet another book recommended to me by others, but I could never get past the cover art to read. I want to read a book about giant rats beating up on evil elves? Called something that looks like “Horribles” misspelled? Uh…no.

    Judging from the comments here, I made a good choice.

  27. FearofMusic Says:

    Actually it’s a bit like an L. Ron Hibbard novel…the so-called heroes are so obnoxiously unlikeable that you end up REALLY wanting those rats to win. Sorta like Gollum attacking Mrs. Frisby

  28. FearofMusic Says:

    Actually it’s a bit like an L. Ron Hibbard novel…the so-called heroes are so obnoxiously unlikeable that you end up REALLY wanting those rats to win. Sorta like Gollum attacking Mrs. Frisby. Course, as awful as this cover was a sudden ceiling collapse seems the best possible end to the encounter.

  29. dpn Says:

    It’s actually a good series. The Borribles are pretty rotten in the first book, but things change over the course of the series. And there is some decent cover art:–MneOABQNk4/UK_FhVILiTI/AAAAAAAABN4/ef6JcwF-30U/s400/4285980955_b3a0de70cd_z.jpg

  30. Dead Stuff With Big Teeth Says:

    @dpn: While I grant you that there is much less bottom, I’m afraid that the cover you’ve posted is…er…in my uncanny valley. So to speak. X(

    Different strokes for different folks, and all that.

  31. B. Chiclitz Says:

    @DSWBT—maybe because it’s a modern epic we’re supposed to apply different standards, or none.

  32. Stevie T Says:

    @Dead Stuff: This is obviously some new definition of ‘decent’ that we were previously unaware of.

    Then again, art is in the eye of the beholder…

  33. dpn Says:

    “Decent” meaning it would score about a 5 on this site. If I could find my copies of the books, I would post them to find out. GSS ratings don’t lie.

  34. SI Says:

    Maybe publishers should push for ratings on their front covers as a marketing tool! I know I would pick up a book with a red star and the following info:

    9.34/10 Good Show Sir Rating!
    “Font Problems tag!!!!!” – Bibliomancer

    I’d be all like, woooaaa that cover must be amazing and fork over my money for an instant classic!

  35. Bibliomancer Says:

    @SI — Great idea! I could use a new revenue stream. My Chinese Good Show Sir site is attracting a lot of eyeballs but few click-throughs. My advertisers are now paying me in dick pilz instead of Bitcoins.

  36. SI Says:

    Everytime I see that sight I have but one thought…. Star Wars mixed with Predator… genius…. GENIUS!

  37. Kripslod Says:

    First, to keep Admin. happy, I’ll say something about this cover: Amazingly clean and even pointing job on those bricks.

    Now, Bibliomancer, I must compliment you on your outstanding website. “Find your old classmates before they find you!” is a classic! I looked but I didn’t click. My momma didn’t birth no foolish children—She found me abandoned in her shopping cart at the local Pigglee-Wigglee.

    By the way, Bibliomancer, haven’t we meet before? Aren’t you also His Serene Excellency Vice Count Abidemi Ekwueme Olamilekan Smith CEO, COO, CFO, and First Janitor of the Twenty-Seventh Royal Bank of Nigeria?

    You owe me $367, 851. 92 (Three hundred sixty seven thousand eight hundred fifty-one dollars and ninety-two cents), Dude!

  38. Bibliomancer Says:

    @Kripslod — Yes, how thoughtless of me. Your money is waiting for you. Just click on the “Punch the Grizzly Bear in the Ass and Win an Ipad” banner ad and it will take you to a page where you can enter your Social Security Number, Bank Account number, user name and password and Credit Card info. I can then wire your money to you in a jiffy!

  39. B. Chiclitz Says:

    @Bibliomancer—posters come, posters go, GSS is large and contains multitudes, but somehow you still manage more frequently than any other to make me fall off my chair.

  40. Kripslod Says:


    Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter. I did just as you instructed and now I eagerly await what’s coming to me.

    P. S. Does anyone know what it means when your anti-virus software starts singing, “Daisy, Daisy! Give me your answer, do. I’m half crazy …”

  41. A.R.Yngve Says:

    The cover that inspired Lemon Demon’s song “Knife Fight”?

  42. FeárofMusiç Says:

    Seldom get the chance to say this: Worst Rat’s Ass EVER!

  43. Bibliomancer Says:

    This was a cover artist who, literally, didn’t give a Rat’s Ass!

  44. Tom Noir Says:

    The London Times Educational Supplement has edgier tastes than one would expect.

  45. Jon T. Says:

    Regarding tagging the cover with “blunt weapons”, it may look that way but looks are deceiving – according to the book, the Rumble is actually wielding a stick with a nail embedded in the end, i.e. basically a spear. Of course, according to the book, the Borrible would also be wielding a similar weapon rather than a knife so the artist gets docked some accuracy points no matter what.

    Contra dpn, I think the series is good but only the first book is great. And Borribles, leaving aside the miltaristic, authoritarian tribe of Wendles, are for the most part pretty nice to each other throughout. Not so nice, obviously, to Rumbles, though that’s absolutely a mutual hatred.

  46. Tag Wizard Says:

    @ Jon T. – Tag Wizard is never wrong.

  47. Dead Stuff With Big Teeth Says:

    One might even say, the Tag Wizard is it.

  48. Proteus454 Says:

    I just wanna say that if the quote you’re using as advertising copy contains the line “warts and all” in reference to the book in question, maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaybe find a different quote?

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