The Abominables

Book review by
Sally Engelfried, Common Sense Media
The Abominables Book Poster Image
Sweet story of yetis' quest for home best for young readers.

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Even though The Abominables is about mythical creatures, it prods readers to think about the way we treat all creatures and gives examples of taking civic action to protect them.

Positive Messages

Be kind. Treat others as you would be treated, and, if someone is in trouble, help them. Have faith in your friends.

Positive Role Models & Representations

From Lady Agatha, who's the first person to recognize the yetis as intelligent beings, to the children who help the yetis migrate to England to the yetis themselves, The Abominables is chock-full of characters who know that helping others and treating everyone with kindness is the road to happiness.

Violence & Scariness

In one city, animals in the zoo are grossly mistreated, and the cruel ruling sultan threatens to imprison or shoot anyone who protests their treatment. Some hunters have a song that includes the words, "Spilled blood is glorious / killing is grand." Though much of the violence is slapstick and doesn't really seem threatening, one of the yetis does get shot by a hunter and must be rushed to a hospital.


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Abominables is award-winning author Eva Ibbotson's last book before her death (completed by her son and her editor). Although it opens with a little girl being stolen by a "foul beast," this is actually a sweet, comforting story with some perilous situations that are easily overcome. At one point there's some violence toward the innocent yetis and one is shot, but it will be clear to all but the youngest readers that everything will turn out OK. The villains are plainly bad guys and are soundly punished for their misdeeds.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 7-year-old Written bycagey11 August 2, 2014

Sweet tale with some intense moments

My son was not quite 7 years old when we chose this as a read-together book. He loved this book and was eager to read a chapter each night before bedtime. The... Continue reading
Kid, 8 years old June 16, 2017

The Abominables

I think the Ambominables is great because it shows empathy towards animals.

What's the story?

When a little girl is lost in the mountains near Tibet, she befriends a family of yetis, who, despite the legends about them being nasty brutes, are kind, polite, vegetarian creatures. Years later, when the little girl has become an old woman, she entrusts a young brother and sister with the mission of taking the yetis back to her stately home in England so the yetis will be safe and cared for after her death. The kids eagerly agree, and thus begins their journey. In episodic chapters, the yetis, despite their intention to remain inconspicuous, engage in heroic acts in each place they travel through, including freeing mistreated animals from a zoo and rescuing a boy lost in the Alps. When they arrive at their final destination, however, the yetis are captured by evil big-game hunters, and it's up to the kids to take action to rescue their friends.

Is it any good?

True to author Eva Ibbotson's usual form, in this compelling tale, the good guys are very good, the bad guys are very bad, and the moral questions have clear answers. When the kids and the yetis find an intolerable situation or difficulty, they solve the problem with quick dispatch, barely even giving readers a chance to worry. The only exception to this is the exciting climax, when the yetis are in danger and it's uncertain whether the kids can advocate for their friends in time to save them.

The theme of protecting the environment and its creatures runs through many of Ibbotson's books, and, as in The Island of the Aunts, the sincerity and goodwill of the characters prevent the message from being too didactic. However, The Abominables lacks the complexity of her more masterful novels such as The Secret of Platform 13 or Journey to the River Sea. More sophisticated readers will find it predictable and possibly even saccharine, but it's perfect for kids who want something funny and comforting with a happy ending.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Parents can talk about how the kids in The Abominables go to the media to publicize the yetis' dilemma. Can you think of other situations when the media can help people in trouble?

  • Why are quest stories so popular? Can you think of some others? 

  • Do you think yetis could be real? What stories about the Abominable Snowman have you heard about, read, or seen on TV?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fantasy and adventure

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