Harvey Comes Home by Colleen Nelson, illustrated by Tara Anderson. Pajama Press, 9781772780970, 2019
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5
Genre: Realistic Fiction
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. The reader first meets a little girl named Maggie and her beloved Westie Terrier named Harvey. When Harvey is home with a dogsitter, he escapes from his yard and begins another adventure with Austin and an elderly man named Mr. Pickering. There is the first story of Maggie frantically looking for her lost dog and Austin finding Harvey but refusing to turn him over to his owner just yet. Austin spends his time working in an assisted-living facility and Harvey has become a positive change in the residents and staff, particularly Mr. Pickering, a cranky elderly man who has some interesting stories of his childhood.
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.
Anything you didn’t like about it? Nothing
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.
Who should buy this book? Public and elementary school libraries, anyone who works with children between the ages of eight and twelve. There are 41 chapters in all but some are very small and children will be curious to know what happens so the chapters move quickly.
Where would you shelve it? Juvenile Fiction
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes
Reviewer Kristin Guay, former youth librarian
Date of review: September 4, 2019