A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
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.
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?
- Author: Eva Ibbotson
- Illustrator: Fiona Robinson
- Genre: Adventure
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Amulet Books
- Publication date: October 8, 2013
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 272
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, Kindle
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