Harvey Comes Home

Pajama Pr. Sept. 2019. 224p. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781772780970.
Gr 4-6–Meet Harvey, a West Highland terrier with a nose for adventure and what makes humans tick. Harvey wanders away from home and becomes lost until 11-year-old Austin finds him, trembling and hungry, outside Brayside Retirement Villa, where Austin’s grandfather works. While lonely Austin wrestles with guilt over keeping the dog he’s longed for instead of finding his owner, Harvey settles into the role of Brayside’s unofficial therapy dog. His sensitivity to the emotional and physical needs of the residents, especially cranky Mr. Pickering, gives Austin and readers a deep sense of empathy for their losses and solitude. 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.

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