Tag Archives: Sharon Rentta

The Abominables

I only cried when I got to the last page of The Abominables, so it has to be said I held out well. And I didn’t cry because it’s the last book by Eva Ibbotson, but because by the end it was definitely well  into hanky territory. (Hidden part of the Himalayas.)

Written before Journey to the River Sea and Eva’s other more recent big successes, I wonder whether it was considerably before them? I know that Eva often wrote in such a timeless fashion that her stories are hard to date. But The Abominables feel older than twenty years, say. It’s got the feel of a true, old-fashioned children’s book. The way they were.

In a way I didn’t feel at all tempted by yetis in the Himalayas, but I knew being Eva’s it would be great. And it was.

Eva Ibbotson, The Abominables

Yetis are not terrible at all. They are lovely, kind, intelligent creatures. And they never eat people. If we are confused, it’s because they are going when we think they are coming, and the other way round.

The young Victorian girl Lady Agatha is kidnapped by a yeti, and ends up living with a clan of them. She teaches them Victorian standards, as is only right and proper, and they love her.

You live long in those mountains, and longer still if you’re a yeti, but sooner or later modern life has to encroach on their Victorian paradise. To save her yetis, Lady Agatha sends them on a journey to England and her old home, where they will be safe.

It’s both hilarious and heartbreaking, and anything but straightforward. But this being an old-fashioned kind of story, there has to be something worthwhile at the end.

There is. Hankies ready?

(I wouldn’t object to more of Eva’s stories being found.)

Extremely loveable yeti portraits by Sharon Rentta.

One Dog and his Boy

I’ve been gorging on sweet dog stories for a while. Or so it seems. Hot on the tails of Oliver and ‘his’ Barclay in Too Small to Fail we meet Hal and Fleck in Eva Ibbotson’s last book. Both boys have dreadful parents, rich and with no clue as to what their sons really need. And it’s not more of the latest toys, nor is it to spend time with housekeepers.

They need their dogs. The dogs they have fallen hopelessly in love with. Dogs that are equally potty about their boys.

But the adults rule, especially when they have too much money. Hal’s parents strike me more as charicatures. In fact, the whole book is more of a story story, but it’s one of the best. I’m not sure when it’s set. It’s sort of a mix of now and then and never.

There isn’t just the one dog, either. Fleck has friends at the Easy Pets Dog Agency, and they too need a happy end. And let’s face it, even if Hal’s parents could learn to see sense, they would never take on five dogs of varying sizes.

Eva Ibbotson, One Dog and his Boy

Unlike Oliver, Hal quickly realises that his parents really have gone too far when they rent a dog for him for the weekend, and then return it, believing he will soon tire of Fleck. So he takes action, but only after thinking things through carefully.

I don’t want to give anything away, but there are several nice girls who all love dogs, and there are some very nice and sensible adults. And because this is an Eva Ibbotson story things sort themselves out. It took me a while to work out how she was going to do it, and when it happened it was even lovelier than expected.

After a book like this I could even half want a dog.

(Irresistible doggie pictures by Sharon Rentta.)