Review: Harvey Takes the Lead (Harvey #3)

Title: Harvey Takes the Lead (Harvey #3)
Author: Colleen Nelson, Tara Anderson (illustrator)
Genre: Middle Grade, Contemporary
Publisher: Pajama Press
Source: Publisher
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: May 17, 2022
Rating: ★★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

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.


When Brayside retirement home gets a new assistant director, she decides to make new rules. These include, Harvey, the Westie, needing special permission to visit and having restrictions while there. Mr. Kowalski’s wife ends up hospitalized, so Harvey would be a great comfort to him. Maggie and Austin sneak Harvey in when they can, but they also have a lot of other issues to deal with. Maggie has auditioned to play Annie in her school play, but she’s given the understudy role and is disappointed. Austin wants to go on a special class trip, but he knows his mom can’t afford the expense. Maggie and Austin have to try to save the welcoming place they know Brayside can be, while also solving their problems along the way. 

These Harvey books are so adorable. They get better with each book. Though they’re fairly short, there is a lot of information packed inside them. There is also incredible character development, so it feels like I’m reading about real people. 

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!

Thank you Pajama Press for providing a copy of this book.

What to read next:

The Undercover Book List by Colleen Nelson

The Unique Lou Fox by Jodi Carmichael

Other books in the series:

Have you read Harvey Takes the Lead? What did you think of it?


Author: jilljemmett

Jill lives in Toronto, Canada. She has studied English, Creative Writing, and Publishing. Jill is the creator and content producer of Jill’s Book Blog, where she has published a blog post every day for the last four years, including 5-7 book reviews a week. She can usually be found with her nose in a book.

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