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Creator / Eva Ibbotson

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Eva Ibbotson, born Eva Maria Charlotte Michelle Wiesner (21 January 1925 – 20 October 2010), was an Austrian-born British novelist, known for her children's books. Some of her novels for adults have been successfully reissued for the young adult market in recent years.

For the historical novel Journey to the River Sea (Macmillan, 2001), she won the Smarties Prize in category 9–11 years, garnered unusual commendation as runner up for the Guardian Prize, and made the Carnegie, Whitbread, and Blue Peter shortlists.

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She was a finalist for the 2010 Guardian Prize at the time of her death. Her last book, The Abominables, was one of four finalists for the same award in 2012.


Works by Eva Ibbotson with their own trope pages include:

Other works by Eva Ibbotson provide examples of:

  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: In Not Just a Witch, when the main character Heckie (who has the power to change people into animals) and her friend Dora (who has the power to turn creatures to stone) have just discovered that Mr. Knacksap, whom they thought was their friend, had secretly been leading them both on and tricking them into abusing their powers for his own benefit:
    Oh, Lord, don't let them get me, prayed the furrier. Don't let me become a louse. Don't let me become a statue. And please, please don't let me become the statue of a louse!
  • Changeling Fantasy: In The Star of Kazan, Annika, a foundling, despite having a loving family, endlessly dreams of the rich woman who will sweep into the house one day and tearfully ask for the baby she abandoned in a church years ago. When such a woman really does appear, Annika finds that she does not like life as a noblewoman's daughter and, at the end of the book, is perfectly willing to accept that the woman is not her real mother, as expressed by her jumping off of a boat to get away from her.
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    • The Secret of Platform 13 is something of a Double Subversion. The heroes first mistake Ben for Raymond, and he, in turn, in disappointed to inform them that they've got the wrong boy. Of course, by the end, he turns out to be the missing prince anyway, while Raymond really was Mrs. Trottle's son.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Or rather Evil Detecting Dragworm. In Not Just A Witch, Heckie's dragworm familiar (half dragon, half worm), turns out to be able to sense people with evil intentions; if someone really nasty is nearby he gets sick.
  • Hand of Glory: The Hand from The Haunting of Hiram is a ghostly disembodied hand who wants to become a Hand of Glory. He manages to achieve his goal after being shocked into action, just in time to save Helen from Adolfa by freezing her in place.
  • Happily Adopted: Several examples throughout the books, but Dial-a-Ghost is pretty much built up around this trope.
    • In a broad sense, the agency ran by Miss Pringle and Mrs Mannering is an adoption agency for ghosts. They try to find people who are willing to "adopt" and take in homeless ghosts:
    For after all if people can adopt whales and trees in rain forests – if schoolchildren can adopt London buses and crocodiles in the zoo – why not ghosts? Only they would have to be proper adoptions, not just sending money. Ghosts after all are not whales or crocodiles; they can fit perfectly well into the right sort of house.
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    • In a more traditional sense, the main characters, the ghostly Wilkinson family, has a Happily Adopted daughter named Adopta... so called because she's amnesiac and can't remember her real name, and when the Wilkinsons found her she had been asleep for a long time and was very drowsy and confused when they managed to wake her up. When the Wilkinsons said they would "adopt her" she decided that her name was "Adopta." Later in the book, it's revealed that her real name is Honoria and she's of noble birth, and her real parents are also ghosts, who went mad and evil with grief after she died young. Adopta isn't at all impressed with her birth parents, and though she reconciles with them at the end she insists she's still a Wilkinson.
  • It's All Junk: Defied in Star of Kazan. One of the main characters is a music professor who purchases a brand new harp around the middle of the story, and the narrative mentions that it's extremely expensive and delicate like a newborn baby. At the climax, to save the professor's surrogate daughter Annika, Annika's friend Stefan shoves the harp down a flight of stairs. When Stefan turns up at the professor's door to apologize, she tells him that it was an incredibly valuable instrument, he knew exactly what he was doing, and that there is no way that it's going to be repaired. She also tells him that Annika is worth the loss of her harp.
  • Love Before First Sight: In Magic Flutes, David Tremayne falls for a princess he's never met, just from pictures of her and others' anecdotes about her kindness and bravery. (Unfortunately for him, he's not the Love Interest, only the love interest's assistant.)
  • Nice Mean And In Between: The three priests hired by the Big Bad of The Great Ghost Rescue have this dynamic. The nice one is a poor Good Shepherd who needed the money to feed orphans. The mean one is a thug who might not even be a priest. The in-between one is a senile old gentleman who mistook the exorcism job for a duck hunting trip.
  • Old Flame Fizzle: In Dial-a-Ghost, the son of the ghost family has a long term crush on a Cynthia Harbottle. When she turns up as a ghost in the final chapter, she is old, plump and selfish.
  • Orphanage of Fear: There are a couple of examples, like the orphanage in Which Witch?, but not all orphanages are presented as bad places. The orphanage in Dial-a-Ghost averts the trope completely; while it's shabby and struggling financially, the children who live there love it so much they dread the thought of being adopted and having to leave.
  • Those Two Bad Guys: The Dragonfly Pool has a comically villainous duo who are hired to kidnap the hero.
  • Valkyries: Played for laughs in The Haunting of Granite Falls — the Valkyrie who turns up to fetch a dead warrior is very fat, therefore has to ride a horse with eight legs (maybe she borrowed it?), and among the pleasures she promises to the fallen warrior is that she'll remove his earwax for him. He comments that some people would consider that unhealthy. It also turns out that she was a bit overenthusiastic about getting a warrior for herself — the person whose death had caused her to appear wasn't actually dead.

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