Sharon Reads: The Abominables by Eva Ibbotson

The Abominables by Eva Ibbotson is a children’s chapter book. This is a previously unpublished work from a well known author, following a family of yetis who are forced to leave their home in the Himalayas and make their way across Europe to a possible new home. Siblings Con and Ellen shepherd the yetis along their eventful journey, with the help of Perry, a good-natured truck driver. Through a mountain rescue in the Alps and a bullfight in Spain, the yetis at last find their way to an ancestral estate in England—only to come upon a club of voracious hunters who have set their sights on the most exotic prey of all: the Abominable Snowmen.

The Abominables is a fun story full of crazy incidents that keep the reader turning pages. As a child, Abigail is stolen from her father’s tent while on an expedition. Her kidnapper means no harm, only needs some help raising his young adominables. This introduction to the world of the adominables brings readers to a place where what most consider imaginary monsters, to be very much like man. Abigail teaches the adominables that she lives with to read, speak, and have good manners. When tourism threatens their home, Abigail sends her ‘family’ to her original home in search of safety. The journey is much more exciting than the travelers were prepared for. Just think about a long trip in the back of a truck with four adominables and a very confused yak. The illustrations scattered throughout the book from Fiona Robinson add a level of humor and aid the imagination perfectly, without overwhelming the reader.

I would highly recommend The Abominables to readers that are fans of the late, great Eva Ibbotson. Readers that enjoy animal stories, humor, and adventure will greatly enjoy the story. I am a little unsure on my age recommendations as I think readers around 8 and older would be my best guess. However, there is quite a bit about animal rights and cruelty so some of the youngest set might be upset by. However, (spoiler) every character gets their happy ending so that might be enough to make the mild upset worth the big happy that is sure to follow. I gave this book 4 stars on Goodreads.

Pictures Really Worth a Thousand (or More) Words

A great picturebook is one that has a perfect pairing of illustrations and words. It should have a story that is interesting to most age groups, and artwork that makes you want to go back for more. Sometimes however you find a picturebook that has such wonderful illustrations that it could be wordless or a reader could ignore the words all together simply because of the perfection of the illustrations. Here are some picture books that have great stories and concepts, but truly stand out because of the fabulous artwork that helps to tell the story.

Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge written by Mem Fox, illustrated by Julie Vivas
A small boy tries to discover the meaning of “memory” so he can restore that of an elderly friend.

Blueberry Girl written by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Charles Vess
Rhyming text expresses a prayer for a girl to be protected from such dangers as nightmares at age three or false friends at fifteen, and to be granted clearness of sight and other favors.

Zen Shorts by Jon J. Muth
When Stillwater the bear moves into the neighborhood, the stories he tells to three siblings teach them to look at the world in new ways.

On Market Street  written by Arnold Lobel, pictures by Anita Lobel
A child buys presents from A to Z in the shops along Market Street.

Owl Moon written by Jane Yolen illustrated by John Schoenherr
On a winter’s night under a full moon, a father and daughter trek into the woods to see the Great Horned Owl.

The Mitten: a Ukrainian Folktale adapted and illustrated by Jan Brett
Several animals sleep snugly in Nicki’s lost mitten until the bear sneezes.

More great artwork and stories can be found in:  The Napping House by Audrey Wood illustrated by Don Wood, In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak , The Polar Express written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg, Stellaluna by Janell Cannon, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen illustrated by Helen Oxenbury, The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney, The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses story and illustrations by Paul Goble, The Clown of God told and illustrated by Tomie de Paola, Millions of Cats by Wanda Gág , and Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney. 

As always, I know I missed some picturebooks with picture perfect pages. Do you have a favorite picturebook that you treasure or remember because of the artwork?

On Our Shelves: New Children’s Fiction

Looking for some newly released fiction to peruse? Here are some of the newest additions to our children’s fiction collection that just might catch your fancy.

Zero tolerance by Claudia Mills
Seventh-grade honor student Sierra Shepard faces expulsion after accidentally bringing a paring knife to school, violating the school’s zero-tolerance policy.

The True Blue Scouts of Sugarman Swamp by Kathi Appelt
Twelve-year-old Chap Brayburn, ancient Sugar Man, and his raccoon-brother Swamp Scouts Bingo and J’miah try to save Bayou Tourterelle from feral pigs Clydine and Buzzie, greedy Sunny Boy Beaucoup, and world-class alligator wrestler and would-be land developer Jaeger Stitch.

Mister Max: the Book of Lost Things by Cynthia Voigt
When Max’s parents leave the country without him, he must rely on his wits to get by, and before long he is running his own–rather unusual–business.

The Truth of Me: About a Boy, His Grandmother, and a Very Good Dog by Patricia MacLachlan
Robbie and his dog, Ellie, spend the summer at his grandmother Maddy’s house, where Robbie learns many things about his emotionally distant parents and himself.

Salt: a Story of Friendship in a Time of War by Helen Frost
Twelve-year-olds Anikwa, of the Miami village of Kekionga, and James, of the trading post outside Fort Wayne, find their friendship threatened by the rising fear and tension brought by the War of 1812.

Still want more? Well here are a few more to help fill your library bag; Zombie Baseball Beatdown by Paolo Bacigalupi, Ghoulfriends Just Want to Have Fun by Gitty Daneshvari, My Homework Ate My Homework by Patrick Jennings, Gone Fishing: a Novel in Verse by Tamera Will Wissingerl, The Planet Thieves by Dan Krokos, and Write This Book: a Do-it-Yourself Mystery by Pseudonymous Bosch.

Sharon Reads: Dean Koontz’s Oddkins: A Fable for All Ages

Oddkins: A Fable for All Ages

Oddkins: A Fable for All Ages by Dean Koontz is a book that readers from elementary school ages through adults can understand and enjoy, with beautiful illustrations and a story that feels very real. Isaac Bodkins was a magical toy-maker who creates toys that can come to life in order to help children trough difficult times. He calls his creations Oddkins. However, Isaac has passed away sooner than expected, and before he could train the next toy-maker. The race is now on to see whether a good or evil magic toy-maker will wield the power. A team of Isaac’s Oddkins are on the move to find the toy shop of Isaac’s chosen heir, while evil toys from the hidden sub-basement try to stop them from reaching their goal before the evil toy-maker can purchased Isaac’s toy shop.

Oddkins: A Fable for All Ages might be Koontz’s first book intended for more than just adult readers, but you would never know it from the read. Living toys are a new idea, but Koontz instilled a new life to the idea, with strong personalities for each of the living toys. I loved the idea that the toys are intended to help children facing special difficulties, although I wished all children could have one rather than just the ones with the ‘potential for greatness’, since I think everyone has that potential. However, that would make for one busy magic toy-maker! The Oddkins that face the action, both good and bad, have quirks and personalities that often made me smile or shudder, depending. The good Oddkin’s quest for Colleen Shannon’s shop, Isaac’s nephew’s search for the truth, and an ex-con in search for more ways to inflict pain intersect with the evil Oddkins intent on securing their future and the success of the dark toy-maker. There are epic battles, internal debates, and characters that will take hold of your heart. What else do you need?

I recommend Oddkins: A Fable for All Ages for adults that are fans of Koontz works as well as adults, teens, and the middle grade set. On a scale of one to five, I would give Oddkins a full five stars. There is a combination of fast passed action with enough introspection and personal discovery to keep readers of all ages and all genre preferences entertained and turning the pages.

(This review was originally published on Sharon the Librarian.)