MG Book Review: The Abominables by Eva Ibbotson

the aboWhen Eva Ibbotson died in 2010, the world lost one of the greatest voices in children’s literature. But in 2013, there came from beyond the grave, in a fashion Eva herself would have appreciated, since she wrote so many humorous books about ghosts, her voice. Alright, it wasn’t exactly her voice, it was The Abominables, a manuscript Eva completed long before her death, but never published. Her son Toby put in the final touches to bring it to publication, and we are thankful he did, because once again we can hear Eva Ibbotson.

What a charming story this is! When aristocratic Lady Agatha Farlingham is kidnapped as a child from at Himalayan campsite where she is staying with her adventurer father, the locals say she was kidnapped by a yeti- an abominable snowman. They also assume she is dead because they say yetis are violent creatures. But she isn’t dead. The yeti who kidnapped her is kind and gentle and needs her help with some orphaned yeti babies. He’s hidden them in a paradise in the crater of an extinct volcano.

Lady Agatha decides to stay and raise the yetis in proper English fashion. They learn how to read, write and speak and even how to have good manners. But when tourists are about to discover their world, Lady Agatha knows they will not be able to stay a secret for much longer. She decides they must go to her family’s estate in England where they can be protected. With the help of another child who discovers the yetis by accident, his sister, and a truck driver, the yetis set off. But their trip becomes an adventure in which they show themselves to be kinder and gentler than humans. They free some animals from a zoo, teach St. Bernard dogs how to search and rescue, and even put an end to a Spanish bull fight. When they arrive at Lady’ Agatha’s family estate, they discover the Farlinghams have fallen on bad times and have rented their estate out a hunt club. The yetis are promptly kidnapped and sent to Antarctica where there will be hunted. The children must seek help from some unusual people, even the Queen of England, to stop it.

This story is fun, easy to read and on its face, simply a quirky adventure. Toby Ibbotson however says it’s much more. He says it is a story that symbolizes the plight of Jews in the world. Whether you read greater meaning into the story or not, it is very enjoyable. The only problem is, you will find yourself sad at the end, when you realize there will be no more books from Eva Ibbotson, unless she finds a way to communicate from the other side!! Happy reading.


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