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Children's Fiction Dogs

Harvey Takes the Lead

by (author) Colleen Nelson

illustrated by Tara Anderson

Pajama Press Inc.
Initial publish date
May 2022
Dogs, Post-Confederation (1867-), Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Adolescence
Recommended Age
9 to 12
Recommended Grade
4 to 7
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    May 2022
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    May 2022
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Download Teacher’s Guide

Where to buy it


The award-winning Harvey Stories are back with a new story of acceptance, understanding, and the loving comfort of everyone’s favourite Westie.

There’s nothing quite like the loving companionship of a loyal dog. When Harvey’s status as Brayside’s comfort dog comes into question, the elderly residents are quick to stand up for him.

Mr. Kowalski, a longstanding Brayside resident, is struggling with his wife’s recent hospitalization. As Harvey watches over him, Mr. Kowalski shares stories of his youth during World War II—tales which fascinates Harvey’s friend Austin. At the same time, the newly appointed Assistant Director Hilary Appleby, the person who wants to get rid of Harvey, also creates unreasonable rules which make the residents of Brayside miserable.

The new school season for Austin and Harvey’s owner Maggie proves to be harder than expected. Maggie’s audition for the school play of Annie doesn’t go as planned, with the role she wanted going to Ndidi, who rarely comes out to rehearsals. Austin, for his part, is battling shame around not being able to afford a school trip.

Award-winning author Colleen Nelson and illustrator Tara Anderson team up once again to deliver another engaging story where Harvey’s exceptional nose leads Maggie and Austin to find resolution to the many challenges they face.

Themes of acceptance, understanding, and intergenerational friendships are the strengths of this middle-grade novel.

About the authors

An author and junior high school teacher who also enjoyed many years of teaching kindergarten, Colleen Nelson earned her Bachelor of Education from the University of Manitoba in her hometown of Winnipeg. Her previous works include the critically-acclaimed middle-grade novels Harvey Comes Home and Harvey Holds His Own; Sadia, which won the 2019 Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Award; and Blood Brothers, which was selected as the 2018 McNally Robinson Book of the Year for Young People. Colleen writes daily in between appearances at hockey rinks and soccer fields in support of her two sports-loving sons. The family’s West Highland Terrier Rosie adds an extra-loveable dose of liveliness, squirrel-chasing, and shoe-chewing to their lives.


Colleen Nelson's profile page

A folk artist and award-winning illustrator who trained at the Ontario College of Art and Design, Tara Anderson is known for her lively and humorous animal illustrations. Her most recent work includes spot illustrations of a quirky little hamster in Sapphire the Great and the Meaning of Life, and beautiful coloured-pencil illustrations of a boisterous family of rhinos in Rhino Rumpus. Her debut That Stripy Cat was followed with Nat the Cat Can Sleep Like That, which won the 2014 Preschool Reads Award and was nominated for the 2015 SYRCA Shining Willow Award. The antics of Nat and his kitten friend are inspired by the cats who roam her farmhouse in Tweed, Ontario, where she lives with her husband and daughter.

Tara Anderson's profile page


  • Nominated, MYRCA Sundogs Award Nominee

Editorial Reviews

Praise for Harvey Takes the Lead

2024 MYRCA Sundogs Award Nominee

2022 CCBC Best Books for Kids & Teens Selection

2022 The Children’s Book Council “May: Hot Off the Press” feature

2022 49th Shelf "20 Middle Grade & Young Adult Page Turners" Feature

2022 49th Shelf “Five Ways to Keep Kids Reading This Summer” feature

“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…are popular.”—School Library Journal

“This warm novel delivers well-realized characters and underscores connections that bind: those between animals and humans and those that unite generations.”—Kirkus Reviews

The story unites generations in a sensitive way, and I recommend you give it a shot.”—YA Books Central

A welcome treat for Harvey fans and dog lovers everywhere.”— CM Magazine

“Author Colleen Nelson weaves relatable issues like friendship drama and economic disparities with the historical stories of the residents at the retirement centre.” —CTV Your Morning

“Fans of the lovable and charming Harvey (a West Highland terrier) will be thrilled with his return.”—Children’s Literature–CLCD

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.”—Book Time

Colleen Nelson pours so much heart onto the pages of her Harvey stories and none more than in Harvey Takes the Lead.”— Storytime with Stephanie

“[A] heartwarming story about balancing school, family and friends, and giving second chances… Every single character has a vibrant personality and backstory, including Harvey and Bertie, the beloved canines! Out of 10, I would give Harvey Takes the Lead a 9.”—CanLit for LittleCanadians

Harvey Takes the Lead is another wonderful Harvey story!”— Jill's Book Blog

“There are many interesting plot lines in Colleen Nelson’s Harvey Takes the Lead and readers will enjoy following them all…”—MaryLou Driedger

“Harvey Takes the Lead is an engaging story with adventure, warmth and personal connections.”—Dr. Larry Recommends

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