When my friend Shaidy gave me this book two weeks ago and I saw its cover, I immediately thought of the 90s movie Homeward Bound by Walt Disney. True enough, this 1960s classic by Sheila Burnford was the inspiration for the movie. I finished the book in no time at all and along with several generations of readers, was captivated by this amazing story.
The Incredible Journey is the tale of three pets — a young Labrador named Luath, an old English bull terrier Bodger and a unique Siamese cat Tao, who journey 300 miles in the Canadian wilderness to return to the Hunters, their family who is set to return from a nine-month stay in England. (They snuck out while they were being dog-sitted by the Hunters’ family friend John Longridge)
The book is amazing because there is actually no verbal communication among the three lead characters, even if the story is focused on their journey and the trials they face in the wilderness. But despite this, the accord and affection they share for each other is so clearly manifested in their actions — in their defense of each other, as Tao and Luath fend off a bear preying on the vulnerable Bodger, as Luath tries to urge his companions to cross the river, as Bodger charms the people that they meet into feeding him, and how the animals manage to survive with the help of each other, each relying on another’s strength and compensating for another’s weakness.
Each animal is portrayed as vulnerable in some way and yet, the book illustrates the strong bond that they share by their actions, their verbal communication and their unspoken understanding of their roles in the journey.
Of course, by the last chapter, tears were already steadily streaming down my face because the reunion with the Hunters was just so touching I do not know how one could react any differently. It was amazing and just so moving.
The Incredible Journey is short (145-pages long) and simply told but the images formed by the words are just so vivid that (especially if one is an animal lover), one could not help but become involved in the story of these three animals’ bravery and loyalty to their masters. One just can’t help but fall in love with these three completely different but equally endearing characters. It is no wonder that 40 years after its original printing, it is still touching the hearts of millions. This book is timeless.