The picture book of Lassie Come-Home is a delightful re-telling of Eric Knight’s 1938 classic for younger readers retold by Rosemary Wells and illustrated by Susan Jeffers.
Lassie is a champion collie owned by a boy named Joe. Lassie always meets Joe after school but one day she didn’t. Joe rushes home to tell his parents something’s happened to Lassie only to find out she had been sold because Joe’s father lost his job.
Joe is devastated as is Lassie. Lassie escapes three times and returns to Joe’s side until finally she is taken far north to Scotland on the North Sea from her home in England.
She escapes one more time and begins a year-long journey of 1000 miles back to find Joe.
Suffering starvation, a broken collar bone, and pneumonia, Lassie struggles to make it back home. She receives help along the way, most notably from an older couple who would like to keep her but they know she is journeying home. Dally, the old woman, tells Lassie, “I can’t see one I love so much in sorrow.”
Finally, one day Lassie makes it back to meet Joe at school very sick. Joe’s father weeps upon seeing her.
Joe’s mother says, “If it was us that needed Lassie, it would not be right to keep her. But it’s she, poor thing, that needs us. She’s her own self and was never ours to sell in the first place.”
Later, Joe’s father is hired by the Duke of Rudling as the manager of his kennel. The Duke jokes, “I had to buy the man, woman, and boy to get the dog back on my property”, knowing full well no living creature could ever be bought or sold.
Reminiscent of Hachiko (see Here and Here), the story of a dog so loyal he waits for his dead master every day to return, we see Lassie driven by her desire to meet Joe every day after school. I wonder what drives this in dogs. Is it the routine (which dogs love) or is it the undying devotion to a master?
A timeless, heart-warming tale of loyalty of man’s best friend and the hardships animals will endure for the love of their owners. This one will definitely jerk the tears from you especially if you’re an animal lover.