The Abominables discussion guide



Author: Eva Ibbotson

Illustrator: Sharon Rentta


Suggested Year Group: Four


The story begins 100 years ago with the kidnap of Lady Agatha by a yeti who needs help to raise his loveable children. Agatha teaches the yeti family to speak and to have impeccable manners. However,  time moves on and Agatha worries about the future of the yetis and sends them with an intrepid brother and sister on a journey across the world to the safety of her ancestral home in England. They meet many challenges and adventures on the way and when they eventually reach England they find it is anything but a safe haven.

Rationale for Selection

Eva Ibbotson is a wonderful storyteller and her final novel is one of her best. 'The Abombinables' deals with serious themes about the way animals are treated but with a light-hearted touch. This makes a perfect whole class read aloud, as well as a great guided read.

Points for Discussion:

Before reading

Find out what the children already know about yetis and discuss the title, 'The Abominables'. Children could do some research into yetis in order to predict what kind of creatures they will be in the story. On page three a yeti is described as, ‘that vile monster’.  Make note about the yetis from the descriptions in Chapter One  and discuss which version Eva Ibbotson wants us to believe in.

During reading

Chapter Two:

  • Look at the way the valley changes over time.
  • Why do these changes happen and are they a good thing?

Chapter Three: Read to the end of page 34.

  • What is each character thinking at this point? How do you know?

Chapter Five:

  • Would you have let Hubert come on the journey to England?
  • What makes Con agree when it seems that taking the yak will make the journey more difficult?

Chapter Ten:

  • Do you think that the long journey is over for the yetis? Why/not?

Chapter 11 is called the hunter’s club

  • what could this mean for the yetis?
  • Will Con and Ellen be able to save the yetis?
  • Why do they care so much about them?

Chapter Twelve:

  • Ambrose says on p163  ‘they can’t have meant to. Unless we’ve been bad.’ Why does he think the ‘relatives’ at Farley Towers are not bad?
  •  Consider the way the yetis have been treated up to now by humans.

Chapter Thirteen:

  • Why do people protest about things?
  • Is there a difference between Con’s reasons for protesting and the schoolchildren he meets?

Chapter Fourteen:

  • Con says, “Nobody listens to children and tramps and old ladies and nobody ever will.” Do you think this is true?

Chapter Fifteen:

  • P214 The research assistant says, ’inhuman abominable monsters’ when he sees what has happened to Uncle Otto. What do you think of this description?
  • Would some people have described the yetis in this way?

Chapter Sixteen:

  • Why has Ambrose been affected more than anyone else by their experience with the hunters?

After reading

When you have finished reading revisit the first line of the story, “About a hundred years ago something dreadful happened in the mountains near Tibet.” Was it really a dreadful thing? What were the consequences?


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These notes may be printed freely for use in classrooms but may not be reproduced in any other format without the permission of the author.

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