Harvey, a curious little white West Highland terrier, roams away when his dogsitter forgets to latch the gate.
Although his getting lost is frightening and heartbreaking for both Harvey and Maggie, his bereft young owner, it's providential for Mr. Walter Pickering, a very elderly resident of a continuing-care facility, and for Austin, who volunteers there—kind of. His service is actually payback his grandfather is exacting for a big mistake involving firecrackers that the lonely 11-year-old made in school. Pickering has always been gruff and reclusive. But after friendly Harvey turns up at the facility (and remains there because Austin, desperately wanting the dog, fails to look for his owner), the man begins to tell Austin—and Harvey—his vividly realized, sometimes brutal tales of growing up on the Saskatchewan prairie during the Dust Bowl. In these short episodes, readers learn how young Pickering befriended impoverished Bertie, who was abused, then abandoned by her drunken father but, being a young girl of rare spirit and determination, survived. Accompanied by his own beloved dog, Pickering and Bertie navigated the immense challenges of the era, their woeful experiences almost subsuming the primary plot in which Austin and Maggie both persevere in their own difficult situations. 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. (Fiction. 10-13)
Praise for Harvey Comes Home
2019 Northern Lights Book Award: Pre-Teen Fiction Winner
2021 Forest of Reading Silver Birch Fiction nominee
2020 SYRCA Diamond Willow Award Finalist
2020 CCBC Best Books for Kids & Teens Spring Selection
2020 Bank Street Best Book selection
2021 Rocky Mountain Book Award - Fiction Shortlist
2022 Great Stone Face Award nominee
2019 Kirkus Reviews 30 Most Anticipated Middle-Grade Books for Fall selection
★ STARRED REVIEW "[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 grandfather, accounting for the book's authentic, intimate feel. Nelson's first middle grade novel is heartwarming and inspirational; a first purchase."—School Library Journal Starred Review
"Affecting, riveting, and evocative, this character-driven tale within a tale…believably reveals the best and sometimes the worst of human nature....Much more than a lost-dog story."—Kirkus Reviews
"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."—Booklist
"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."—ILA Literacy Daily, "Compassion, Empathy, and Understanding"
“Rating: E...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....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.”—Resource Links
“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.”—CM Magazine
"Rating: 5/5...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....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..."—Youth Services Book Review
“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.”—Winnipeg Free Press
"In her first middle-grade novel, [Colleen Nelson] 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."—CanLit for LittleCanadians
"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!"—Toronto.com, "Good novels for older children and teenagers"
"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.”—Sheryl McFarlane, author of Waiting for the Whales
“A joyful and heartrending story of life and love and loyalty…perfect for fifth, sixth and seventh grade classroom novel studies, perfect for teaching the elements of fiction and of human values.”—Books for Kids Blog
“We rated this book: [5/5] I loved Harvey Comes Home because of the feeling and emotion in it….If I had to describe this book in 1 sentence I would say, ‘heartfelt and wonderful.’”—Kids’ Book Buzz, Natalie, Age 9