Riveting Yeti family's road-trip proves fitting finale by author

Riveting Yeti family's road-trip proves fitting finale by author


The Abominables Book_L
Photo: Marion Lloyd Books/Scholastic
The Abominables
By Eva Ibbotson
Published by Marion Lloyd Books/Scholastic
ISBN 978 1 4047132976

The final story children's author Eva Ibbotson wrote before her death is set more than 100 years ago, and focuses on the Yeti - a huge, mythical, ape-like Himalayan monster.

The Earl of Farley, a British explorer, is travelling with his young daughter, Agatha, on one of his many plant-hunting expeditions. The trip turns to tragedy when the little girl is abducted by a Yeti.

However, the Yeti doesn't harm Agatha. Far from being the legendary fearful creature, it is gentle and kind - simply a concerned father, worried about bringing up his brood of motherless Yeti children: he has kidnapped Agatha to be their surrogate mother.

Agatha meets the challenge with real courage, and quickly makes friends with her new family, discovering that they are affectionate creatures. She wastes no time in teaching the Yetis how to speak and use polite, English manners. They are also fascinated by her stories about her home country.

Agatha enjoys her life with the Yeti family. The years pass quickly until she has become an old woman. Yet their idyllic existence comes under threat from developers planning a luxury hotel for tourists - and yeti hunters.

Agatha realises the Yetis' future and very existence is at serious risk. So she decides to take them on an epic road trip to the one place she knows they will be safe - her ancestral home of Farley Towers.

Austrian-born Ibbotson lived most of her life in Britain and died aged 85 in 2010. She was an award-winning author of children's and young adult books, including Journey to the River Sea, The Star of Kazan, Which Witch? and The Ogre of Oglefort. She left among her papers at home the manuscript of The Abominables, which her family, luckily for us, decided to publish posthumously.

Despite the popularity of her novels, her name is not as well known as it should be - but this superb final book could well change that. Ibbotson's vivid imagination and trademark upbeat storytelling skills, cheeky sense of humour, and respect for nature are all here in this inventively enjoyable story.

The Yetis' amazing journey to England, and what they find at Farley Towers, will keep readers of all ages riveted right up to the surprising last few pages.

John Millen can be contacted on MillenBookshelf@aol.com



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