Harvey Comes Home Reviews

School Library Journal ★ Starred Review

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

“Harvey’s strong connection to Mr. Pickering sets up an emotional conclusion—expect a few tears—in which lives converge and Harvey is reunited with Maggie, his 12-year-old owner. Alternating among the perspectives of Harvey, Austin, and Maggie, this 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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“Harvey, a Westie, loves his young owner Maggie, but while she’s away on a family vacation, Harvey’s sitter doesn’t latch the gate properly. The little white pup escapes and wanders into new parts of the city. Hungry, thirsty, and dirty, he finally rests behind a planter at Brayside Retirement Villa, where he is discovered by Austin. Austin has been working off a detention by assisting his grandfather with custodial work at Brayside. The residents, employees, and Austin fall in love with Harvey. One crotchety resident, Walter Pickering, even begins reminiscing about his 1930s childhood and a beloved dog of his own; Austin and Harvey are hooked (as are readers). 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. The title clues readers into the final outcome, but it’s the middle that moves the plot along. Dog lovers will drool over this multi-generational story.”
— J. B. Petty

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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. These are the bonds that tie us in love and gratitude, responsibility and empathy. They are the ones that give us our humanity via our benevolence for others. But Harvey Comes Home is also about the power of memory to bring us home. I will admit that Colleen Nelson’s story brought me to tears time and time again, as an aging Mr. Pickering grabs at his memories, as Bertie survives against all odds, and as Harvey and General are loved and love. 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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