The Incredible Journey

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First edition (UK) Book-IncredibleJourney.jpg
First edition (UK)

The Incredible Journey (1961), by Scottish author Sheila Burnford, is a children's book first published by Hodder & Stoughton, which tells the story of three pets as they travel 300 miles (480 km) through the Canadian wilderness searching for their beloved masters. It depicts the suffering and stress of an arduous journey, together with the unwavering loyalty and courage of the three animals. The story is set in the northwestern part of Ontario, which has many lakes, rivers, and widely dispersed small farms and towns.


It is usually considered a children's book, although Burnford has stated that she did not write it specifically for children. The book was a modest success when first published, but became widely known after 1963 when it was loosely adapted into a movie by the same name by Walt Disney. The story was again adapted loosely when Disney remade the film in 1993 as Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey . [1]

Burnford based the fictional story on the animals she and her husband owned while living in Canada: a Bull Terrier brought from England; a Siamese cat, whose mutual relationship with the terrier she described as "closer than any other cat-and-dog relationship I had ever seen"; and a young Labrador Retriever, who also developed a close relationship with the older dog. [2]


The animals' owners, the Hunters, leave to go to England for several months because Jim, the father, is scheduled to give a series of university lectures there. They leave their pets in the care of John Longridge, a family friend and godfather of their daughter, Elizabeth. One day, after John Longridge leaves for a two-week duck hunting trip, the animals, feeling the lack of their human helpers, set out to try to find their owners, the Hunters. Mrs. Oakes, who is taking care of Longridge's home, does not find the animals and thinks that John must have taken them with him. The animals follow their instincts and head west, towards home, 300 miles away through the Canadian wilderness. They face many obstacles in their path; from rivers to irritable people, but nonetheless, they struggle bravely on, until they finally reach home.



See also

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