Harvey Comes Home Reviews

School Library Journal ★ Starred Review

Cover: Harvey Comes Home Author: Colleen Nelson Illustrator: Tara Anderson Publisher: Pajama Press

“[T]his gently paced, character-driven narrative captivates on every level, transforming a ‘lost dog’ story into a deeper reading experience. Present-day and historical time lines (with a few grim moments) are seamlessly interwoven and keep readers invested. Back matter reveals that the tale was inspired by Nelson’s (Finding Hope) grandfather, accounting for the book’s authentic, intimate feel. VERDICT Nelson’s first middle grade novel is heartwarming and inspirational; a first purchase.”
—Marybeth Kozikowski, Sachem Public Library, Holbrook, NY

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Kirkus Reviews

“Affecting, riveting, and evocative, this character-driven tale within a tale, with narrative perspective alternating among Harvey, Austin, and Maggie, believably reveals the best and sometimes the worst of human nature. The cast defaults to white. Much more than a lost-dog story.”

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“What begins as a story of a dog and two kids evolves into a historical look at Mr. Pickering’s much simpler, yet complicated, life. Throughout, alternating third-person chapters from Maggie, Harvey, and Austin give readers a rounded view of each prominent character….Dog lovers will drool over this multi-generational story.”
— J. B. Petty

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ILA Literacy Daily, “Compassion, Empathy, and Understanding”

“Although it might not be a part of the Common Core State Standards or easy to measure, teaching our students compassion, empathy, and understanding is an important part of the curriculum. Following are some recently published books that are good choices for reading aloud to foster discussion as well as for independent reading….

The chapters alternate from the perspectives of Austin, Harvey, and Maggie, an effective device that allows readers to develop an understanding of the emotions and behaviors of the characters.”

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Canadian Children’s Book News

“In Harvey Comes Home we meet Maggie and Harvey just before Maggie and her family are about to take a trip. Harvey is left at home with a pet sitter when he decides to break free from his yard and follow his nose. The poor little fellow becomes terribly lost and is unable to find his way back home. Lucky for him a young boy named Austin finds him and takes him in….

Both Harvey Comes Home and Harvey Holds His Own are heartwarming tales that will be much loved by anyone who has ever owned a dog or wanted one. The narrative perspective alternating between Harvey, Maggie and Austin draws the reader in and middle grade students will easily relate to the nuanced characters Nelson has created. The chapters are also kept short so that even reluctant readers will not find these stories too challenging to read. Being a dog lover myself I can see how readers will be attracted to these inspirational stories. I highly encourage parents, teachers and librarians to add these two titles to their shelves and hope there will be another story coming soon.”
—Sandra O’Brien

Read the full review on page 32 of the Fall 2020 issue of Canadian Children’s Book News

CM Magazine

“Assuming that Harvey Comes Home is a simple novel about a lost dog does not give this story enough credit. Assuming that it is a novel about a family that searches for their missing dog isn’t enough either because the author has given equal weight to Harvey’s journey and to a second story, one that is a touch more emotionally captivating, with Harvey becoming a visitor in a nursing home and an important friend to the people who live and work there….Harvey Comes Home is a gentle story about a slow build to friendship between generations that would be of interest to all readers and a wonderful choice for reading aloud. Harvey Comes Home is about so much more than a lost dog, and I can see this book being one that any reader would treasure. Highly Recommended.
—Penny McGill

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Resource Links

“Rating: E…Harvey Comes Home is a delightful tale about an amazing dog and the people who love him. The story has multiple dog-human connections, each unique in their own way, but interconnecting as well….Harvey Comes Home is not only heart-warming, but is heartbreaking as well. Please have a box of tissues ready when this one is read.

Children who love animal stories will be eager to devour this story. The narrative is simple, endearing, and gentle but is touched by some sadness at the end. The characters all have their own voice, their own personalities, and their own problems (even Harvey). The illustrations are perfect for the story…

Harvey Comes Home is a sweet, lovable and adorable story that readers will enjoy regardless of their age. Colleen Nelson’s wonderfully woven story of a dog, a boy, and some seniors deserves a place on a shelf in every school and public library.”
—Carmelita Cechetto-Shea

Read the full review in the October 2019 issue of Resource Links

Youth Services Book Review

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5

What did you like about the book? While looking at the cover and the title of this book you might think this is a story about a lost dog that makes its way home — but that would be a mistake because this story is so much more than that. As a matter of fact, it is actually a story within a story….

This story flips from the present, Maggie searching for Harvey and Austin trying to keep up the ruse, and the stories of Mr. Pickering that take place in the 1930’s during some particularly challenging times. Austin becomes engrossed in these stories of life on the prairie and all the hardships and challenges the families fought against. I found it was the stories provided by Mr. Pickering that kept me turning the pages of this book. I really wanted to know what happened to him, his family, and his special friend that he rescued from the brink of death….

To whom would you recommend this book? Perfect for children between the ages of eight and twelve. There are some topics of abuse, neglect, and a dead body so these concepts might be a little scary for younger children….

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our ‘to read’ piles? Yes”
Kristin Guay, former youth librarian

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Winnipeg Free Press

“Winnipeg’s Colleen Nelson has written a new book that will especially resonate with pet lovers….Mid-grade readers will enjoy this story of love, loyalty and endurance, in which Tara Anderson shows her versatility by supplying charming black-and-white illustrations.”

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CanLit for LittleCanadians

“A scent, a touch, a colour, a voice. They can draw memories. And memories can take you places. They can take you away from the present and towards something else. They can take you to a past that needs to be remembered or give direction to follow forward. And they can take you home in more ways than one….

Told in alternating chapters from the perspectives of Harvey, Maggie and Austin, Harvey Comes Home is not just a story about a dog lost and found. It’s a story about the bonds between human and dog….But Harvey Comes Home is also about the power of memory to bring us home….Colleen Nelson always tells a good story (see her YA titles SadiaBlood BrothersFinding Hope, and The Fall for a great sampling) but, in her first middle-grade novel, she is able to grab the reader’s heartstrings while blending a dog story with an intergenerational relationship and embedding profound reflections on the Depression and the Dust Bowl. It’s a complete package as Harvey’s, Maggie’s and Austin’s stories converge, integrated with heart and important messages about connecting with others and forgiveness for mistakes made when scared, hurt or alone.

Harvey Comes Home will make dog-lovers hug their animals and children ask their grandparents to share their stories from their own childhoods, bringing all a little closer and giving life to new memories for all.”

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Toronto.com, “Good books for older children and teenagers”

Harvey Comes Home is an entertaining novel aimed at middle-grade readers (ages 8-12)….Not only will the reader enjoy learning about Harvey’s adventures and whether he will get back to his family, but also about the dust storms, droughts, poverty and difficult lives of those who lived on the prairies during the 1930s. Readers will also learn about how dogs greatly enrich our lives, including the special work done by therapy dogs, and how people often aren’t as they appear. Excellent book for middle-grade readers!”
—Glenn Perrett

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Author Sheryl McFarlane

“I have just finished the most wonderful middle grade novel, Harvey Comes Home by Colleen Nelson, illustrated by Tara Anderson and published by Pajama Press.

Kids will absolutely love this novel about a little West Highland Terrier who escapes when left in the care of a dog sitter….Told in alternating chapters in the voices of Harvey, Maggie and Austin, Nelson paints a moving picture of the bond between dogs and people, especially the bond between Mr. Pickering and his childhood dog, General. The power of Harvey Comes Home lies in Nelson’s skilled storytelling. Fully drawn characters, including the curious little Westie, are absolutely believable. Her ability to bring history to life for any aged reader makes this book a must read. Delightful illustrations by Tara Anderson add a touch of whimsy to an already 5-star book.”

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Books for Kids Blog

“Colleen Nelson’s Harvey Comes Home (The Harvey Stories) (Pajama Press, 2019) begins with a simple lost dog story and becomes much more….[A] joyful and heartrending story of life and love and loyalty. Readers will find themselves swallowing back a lump in their throats as Harvey loses himself and perhaps a tear as Mr. Pickering finds himself along the way in this moving novel for middle graders.

This middle-reader fiction book is perfect for fifth, sixth and seventh grade classroom novel studies, perfect for teaching the elements of fiction and of human values.”

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Kids’ Book Buzz

“We rated this book: [5/5]

I loved Harvey Comes Home because of the feeling and emotion in it….I would give this book five stars because it was so interesting. If I had to describe this book in 1 sentence I would say, ‘heartfelt and wonderful.’”
—Natalie, Age 9

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Winnipeg Free Press Summer Reading Challenge

“This book is special. It’s a story of unlikely friendships. An old man befriends a lonely boy and Harvey the dog. I enjoyed this book very much. I like it because of the many storylines and the depth of the story. I really did not find anything I disliked. I would recommend it to children and adults alike.

★★★★ out of 5”

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