Publisher's Note:  

Instinct told them that the way home lay to the west. And so the doughty young Labrador retriever, the roguish bull terrier and the indomitable Siamese set out through the Canadian wilderness. Separately, they would soon have died. But, together, the three house pets faced starvation, exposure, and wild forest animals to make their way home to the family they love. The Incredible Journey is one of the great children's stories of all time--and has been popular ever since its debut in 1961.

The Incredible Journey

by Sheila Burnford

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Overall Review:  

If you’ve seen the 1993 Disney movie Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey with the animals speaking, you'll find some of the same events here, but the flavor of this charming book is entirely different.

The main characters are the three animals (but realistically portrayed), an old English bull terrier, a young Labrador retriever, and a Siamese cat. They’ve been left with a friend while the family is away, but when the friend leaves on a trip, the young dog leads the other two on a trip back home, a journey of nearly 300 miles across Canada.

The cat will fight off a bear; the young dog will try to catch a porcupine; to protect the young dog, the old dog will fight a younger dog. They’ll encounter some Indians, some solitary farmers and hunters, and lots of other animals.

The writing is lyrical and the pace is gentle, each chapter focusing on another event in the animals’ long trek home. I read a number of scathing reviews of the book by young kids on Amazon, but several other young readers loved the story.

It’s a great book to read aloud, and its rich vocabulary and complex sentences will reward readers who take up the challenge of this book.

Reading Level: 10.1 (range 8.8-11.8).

Of interest to boys and girls.

This review has been acquired and adapted from

Content Analysis:  

This review was acquired from on May 15, 2014 and was not completed using Compass Book Ratings’ standardized checklist.  Nevertheless, it contains useful content information which is included here.  The overall number ratings have been approximated based on this information.

Cat and dogs catch and eat small animals throughout story, most not graphic, some mention of blood, crunching bones, feathers; bear cub cuffs old dog’s head, rakes dog’s shoulder, nibbles dog’s tail; cat jumps on cub’s back, repeatedly rakes cub across eyes; mother bear tries to swipe cat off cub’s back, swipes cub, cub knocked over, goes "spinning . . . into the bushes"; mother starts for old dog, cat advances on bear, young dog joins in, threatening bear; someone shoots at dogs, pellets "stinging into their hindquarters"; while crossing stream, cat hit by big wave of water, hit on head by log, carried downstream, seems almost dead; mention that old dog and cat "waged unceasing war against [other cats]"; farmer and collie come after dogs, collie attacks young dog, when "collie is "ready to give the final slash," old dog joins in, goes for collie’s throat, knocks collie down, collie is "choking and strangling," collie bleeding at throat, old dog spins around, knocks collie "several feet," keeps crashing into collie, master cuffs collie’s head, throws stick at dogs; young dog attacks porcupine, contrasting description of fisher’s careful attack, porcupine swings tail "in the dog’s face," embedding quills in dog’s cheek, dog tries to get them out, only embeds them further into his face, scratching, dragging cheek on ground and on tree, dog in constant pain; cat chased by lynx, dislodged from tree, falls to ground, lynx attacks boy, boy fires gun, kills lynx, somewhat graphic; young dog (who can’t open jaw from infection) lives on blood of animals killed by old dog and cat; man throws water at old dog, threatens him with broom, yells at him; hunter shoots two ducks; cat fights off farm cats; farmer threatens to "break every bone in [old dog’s] body."

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Two men smoke pipes, accepted, each shown in a picture also; family pours warm milk mixed with brandy down cat’s throat.

Reviewed By CleanTeenReads
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