Harvey Takes the Lead Reviews

School Library Journal

“Harvey’s delightful antics wonderfully complement the good hearts of Maggie and Austin…This feel-good story told from multiple points of view, including Harvey’s, keeps readers engaged and interested…A wonderful addition to libraries where Harvey’s previous adventures, or dog stories in general, are popular.”

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Kirkus Reviews

“In the third series entry, Harvey, the West Highland white terrier; his young owner, Maggie; and her friend Austin confront drama and heartbreak.

Seventh grade pals Maggie and Austin, who volunteer at the Brayside Retirement Villa, meet Ms. Appleby, the facility’s strict new assistant director. She imposes draconian rules governing, among other things, visits by dogs. Additionally, Maggie’s dismayed she was overlooked for the lead in the school’s production of Annie, the role she coveted; she’s become the understudy instead. Besides that, Austin’s unemployed mom can’t afford his upcoming school trip. Brayside resident Mr. Kowalski faces the toughest struggle: His seriously ill wife has been hospitalized. Over time, he achieves emotional catharsis by recounting to sympathetic Austin some of his and Mrs. Kowalski’s World War II experiences. Meanwhile, Maggie puts her role in the play into perspective and befriends and supports the talented lead. In brief chapters this warm novel delivers well-realized characters and underscores connections that bind: those between animals and humans and those that unite generations.”

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CM Magazine

“Austin is embarrassed by his family’s lack of funds to enable him to attend the school trip, but he continues to channel his energies in a positive direction, particularly through his volunteering at the retirement home. Mr. Kowalski is sad that his wife of sixty years is very ill in the hospital, but Austin helps him to remember the pleasant memories and music of their earlier years. And Harvey continues to do what he does best: comforting the retirement home residents and searching for the source of the scent that he knows means mice. For the most part, the story strands move on separate tracks (chapters are narrated by Maggie, Austin, and Harvey) until the end when they are woven together in a satisfying conclusion. A welcome treat for Harvey fans and dog lovers everywhere. Highly Recommended”

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CTV Your Morning

“Harvey Takes the Lead…is the third book in a contemporary series about two middle school students, a retirement community, and the dogs that bring them all together. Author Colleen Nelson weaves relatable issues like friendship drama and economic disparities with the historical stories of the residents at the retirement centre.”

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YA Books Central

“Kindness will be rewarded. The early parts of the book share a simple tale of two kids volunteering at a retirement village, but the plot slowly evolves into an emotional journey of hope, caring, and friendship. The story unites generations in a sensitive way, and I recommend you give it a shot.”

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Children’s Literature–CLCD

“Fans of the lovable and charming Harvey (a West Highland terrier) will be thrilled with his return. Maggie (Harvey’s owner) along Austin and the residents of Brayside Retirement Villa are back with new dilemmas. There’s a new assistant director at Brayside. She begins to enforce and dictate several rules; one regulation severely limits Harvey’s visits to everyone’s dismay. The Brayside residents along with the staff are extremely disappointed with the changes instigated by the assistant director in the guise of running a tight ship.”

Book Time

“The story is fast moving and the characters are strong. I am impressed by Maggie and Austin’s mature choices and I loved getting to learn about Mr. Kowalski’s life during the Secord World War. While you do not need to read Books 1 and 2 to understand what is going in Harvey Takes the Lead, I am going to suggest you may want to: the characters are great and I think the former books will provide more details about the crews’ backstories.”

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Storytime with Stephanie

“Colleen Nelson pours so much heart onto the pages of her Harvey stories and none more than in Harvey Takes the Lead. At a time when many seniors living facilities have been locked down and seniors have been allowed very few visitors, it’s a bright light to remind grandchildren about the importance of connections with grandparents and elders. There is tremendous love and respect not just for seniors but those who care for them as well and I love seeing how important the Brayside community is to Maggie and Austin.”

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Jill’s Book Blog

“The issues at the retirement home were an important part of this story. The new assistant director thought she was doing the right thing by restricting Harvey’s visits and banning activities for the residents. However, these were things that they looked forward to, so it actually hurt their quality of life. I saw first hand at my grandmother’s nursing home how music and dogs can brighten up the residents. There were even non-verbal residents who would speak when they saw dogs or heard certain songs. I’m glad this was part of a children’s book, so they can learn about life in a retirement home.

Harvey Takes the Lead is another wonderful Harvey story!”

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Dr. Larry Recommends

“Harvey, the loveable West Highland Terrier returns in the third book…by award-winning author, Colleen Nelson…Harvey Takes The Lead is an engaging story with adventure, warmth and personal connections.”

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