The Incredible Journey

Use the link below to access the online versions of the literature study of this book.  You may use it to enhance your understanding of the novel and to prepare for your circles for your literature groups.

"The Incredible Journey, by British born Canadian author Sheila Burnford, is a children's book first published by Hodder & Stoughton in London in 1961. The story, written in a realistic style (the animals do not talk, for example), tells of the adventure shared by two dogs and a cat as they travel 300 miles through the Canadian wilderness searching for their beloved masters. It reveals 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, Canada which has many lakes, rivers, and widely dispersed small farms and towns."

"Although usually considered a children's book, Burnford has stated she did not write it specifically as a children's book. The book was a modest success when first published, but became widely known after 1963 when it was adapted into a movie by Walt Disney; it was remade in 1993 as Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey."

"The animals' owners, the Hunters, leave for England for university lectures and so entrust the animals to John Longridge, a family friend and godfather of the young daughter, Elizabeth. One fateful day, after John Longridge leaves for a 2 week trip of duck hunting, the animals, feeling the lack of their human companions, set out without a trace to try to find their way home to the Hunters. Mrs. Oakes, who is taking care of Longridge's home, doesn't find the animals and concludes that John must have taken them with him. The animals follow their instincts and move westward towards home, dodging danger nearly every step of the way. But when Bodger, the old Bull Terrier, is attacked, they have to slow down. Tao, the cat, is separated from the others because of a rushing river and faces several dangers before he succeeds in finding the lost dogs. Along the way, the animals are offered help several times. When the Hunters and John Longridge come back from their trips they are devastated when they learn that the animals have gone. They try to find the animals, but after giving up almost all hope, the animals one by one appear out of the woods in a happy homecoming."


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