I’m not sure what compelled me to pull this classic off the shelf, but just a few pages into Sheila Burnford’s adventure story reminded why this is one of the greatest adventure stories written for children. A Siamese cat, an old bull terrier and their leader, a yellow Lab, make a 250 mile trek across the Canadian wilderness to return home.
They have spent over eight months with their owners’ friend. When he departs for a short vacation, leaving the animals in the care of his housekeeper, they make their escape. The Lab longs for his master and his instincts drive him west. Years of companionship have forged a friendship between the pets. They journey together: the cat stealing off for moments of solitude; the older dog resting when weary; and the Lab urging them forward. They encounter human kindness, as well as exposure to the elements, predators and near starvation. Their loyalty to each other and their human family enables them to overcome these challenges.
The author’s colorful descriptions place the reader side-by-side with these traveling companions. She presents a realistic view of animals and their behavior, yet each pet has its own endearing personality. Suspenseful and humorous at times, Sheila Burnford’s timeless story will appeal to animal and adventure lovers of all ages. Families will also enjoy watching the 1963 movie based on the book.
Jennifer Minicus is a teacher living in Ridgewood, NJ.