Quill and Quire

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Safe and Sound

by Barbara Nichol, Anja Reichel, illus.

Two young dogs named Safe and Sound decide that they want to see the world. But they are the most naïve travellers imaginable: they panic when their airplane flies too high and when the buses in England drive on the other side of the road. They are miffed by different food, late mealtimes, scratchy toilet paper, and unfamiliar customs. After many adventures, they return to their beloved home at last to write the journals on which this book is based: journals to be found in a section of the library labelled “Biting Off Much More than You Can Chew.”

Nichol’s long rhyming poem is a humorous introduction not only to the challenges of world travel but also to the attitudes that can limit the unprepared tourist’s enjoyment of foreign places. Safe and Sound find fault with everything. Nichol pokes fun at this attitude through the dogs’ own journal voices, as they express sentiments like “Foreigners are different./It’s the way that they were taught./They think we’re different too/But they are wrong/For we are not.” An authorial voice admonishes them for their silliness, yet ultimately comforts them, saying, “There’s nothing wrong with those who have/A thirst to stay at home.”

Anja Reichel’s colourful oil paintings recall and celebrate modernist European art, capturing the liveliness and light of the foreign scenes on the one hand, and the deep anxiety of the dogs on the other. Despite a couple of awkward phrases in the text, this book is a clever way to prepare intrepid would-be young tourists for the realities and joys of travel.