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The Abominables

Review

The Abominables

Meet the yeti family from the Himalayas of Tibet. Father, their strong, proud leader who is over 300 years old; Uncle Otto, a shy, book lover who is self-conscious about going bald; Grandma, who grumbles about everything but loves to sing and yodel (be sure to cover your ears!), and the three children: Lucy, Clarence and Ambrose. Lucy is a very large yeti who likes to eat, a lot, and occasionally sleep walks herself into dangerous situations. Clarence’s brain doesn’t work so well; ever since a large rock fell on his head, he only ever says one word when he speaks, and it’s usually wrong. And Ambrose, the Abominable, as he is known, is a walleyed yeti with one blue eye and one brown who may be “just a little too kind for his own good.” Oh, and don’t forget Hubert, Ambrose’s pet yak, a perplexed creature that is always looking for his mother and confusing her with everything from goats to giraffes.

"Ibbotson’s satiric wit and sense of humor are present throughout, and the writing is imaginative and fun. The yetis are Ibbotson’s most loveable, supernatural creatures yet."

Raised by an English governess, Lady Agatha --- whom Father kidnapped to care for his children when she herself was only a young girl --- the yetis love stories, have impeccable manners and are the kindest creatures you could ever have the pleasure of meeting. Yetis have beautiful, thick, brown fur and are herbivores because all animals are their “cousins.” Yetis also have backward facing feet and are therefore difficult to track, which is why they’ve never been discovered­ --- until now that is. The yetis’ Himalayan home is threatened by encroaching tourism, and Lady Agatha fears that eventually her friends will be hunted down and made into a spectacle for the world. She decides that the safest place for the yetis is her lavish family estate, Farley Towers, in England. Too old to travel herself, Lady Agatha enlists the help of siblings, Con and Ellen Bellamy, to transport the yetis across the world to their new home.

And so, with the help of a friendly lorry driver with a pig tattoo, and equipped with a bed sock, a nightcap and a picture of Queen Victoria, the yetis, Con and Ellen set off on a cross-continental escapade. Along the way they meet a terrible sultan, cowardly St. Bernard rescue dogs and El Magnifico, the fiercest bull in Spain. But when the yetis finally arrive at Farley Towers, all is not as it seems, and the yetis are captured by an evil group of big-game hunters. Con and Ellen must appeal to the Queen of England herself to save their friends from a terrible fate. But will royal help arrive in time to rescue the rarest and most fantastic supernatural creatures England has ever seen?

Eva Ibbotson’s final novel for children --- completed posthumously by her son Toby and editor Marion Lloyd --- is an unforgettable finale. This book will have you smiling the whole way through. Fans of THE ISLAND OF THE AUNTS and THE SECRET OF PLATFORM 13, will not be disappointed. Ibbotson’s satiric wit and sense of humor are present throughout, and the writing is imaginative and fun. The yetis are Ibbotson’s most loveable, supernatural creatures yet. This is a hilarious social commentary about the triumph of good over evil and the bravery and determination of children. Fiona Robinson’s illustrations create an indispensable picture of the yetis with their backward facing feet and kind expressions. THE ABOMINABLES was a wonderful and much-needed goodbye from a children’s author that will be sorely missed.

Reviewed by Alice Dalrymple on October 15, 2013

The Abominables
by Eva Ibbotsen