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Review of The Abominables

The Abominables
by Eva Ibbotson; illus. by Fiona Robinson
Intermediate     Amulet/Abrams     264 pp.
10/13     978-1-4197-0789-6     $16.95

From Kenneth Grahame’s reluctant dragon to Roald Dahl’s BFG, endearing monsters are a staple of children’s literature, now including Eva Ibbotson’s yetis. The book opens a century ago when the young Lady Agatha Farlingham disappears and is presumed dead during an expedition in the Himalayas with her plant-hunting father. In fact, Agatha has been kidnapped by a grieving widower yeti. After meeting the yeti’s three infants, she decides to stay and provide them with a “civilized English upbringing” in their secret valley home. Decades later, when their idyllic life is imperiled, the now-elderly Agatha sends her hirsute charges off to her family estate in England. Aided by siblings Con and Ellen and the kindly truck driver Perry, they journey through Asia and Europe, liberating a zoo, improving the lives of some Alpine rescue dogs, and interfering with a bullfight along the way. Upon arrival they discover that the Farlingham family home is occupied by a group of nefarious big-game hunters; but wit, intelligence, a few royals, and a large assortment of schoolchildren manage to save the day. Completed after Ibbotson’s death by her son and her editor, this is a romp that balances Ibbotson’s trademark whimsical humor with understated opinions about outsider and animal rights. Line illustrations, cozy but surreal, suit the tone admirably.

From the November/December 2013 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

About Monica Edinger

Monica Edinger, a fourth-grade teacher at the Dalton School in New York City, blogs at Educating Alice and the Huffington Post. She is the author of Africa Is My Home: A Child of the Amistad (Candlewick), illustrated by Robert Byrd.

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