A Book That Created Ripples In Our Book Club

Harvey Comes Home written by Colleen Nelson and illustrated by Tara Anderson was chosen by the young readers. At first, we enjoyed reading about this incredibly cute dog Harvey. Every time we saw a dog somewhere in our daily lives, we would make connections to how Harvey sees the world in the book. We also gathered from the title and the first few chapters that Harvey although lost would eventually come back home. The question was how. Little did we know that we were about to go on a ride of a different kind.



A gist

Harvey adores his owner, Maggie, a little girl to whom Harvey means the world. So much so she is reluctant to go on a holiday with her family as they can't take Harvey alone. A dog sitter is hired but she is unable to stop Harvey from trying to run out of the gate. It appears that Harvey is trying to follow Maggie as she leaves with her family for the holiday. Harvey in the process gets distracted and eventually finds himself in a new place. The new place is Brayside, a retirement home. This is when the other important character in the story, Austin makes an entrance. Harvey transforms his life. Austin grows more sensitive towards people, in particular one Mr.Pickering. Harvey finds a place in Mr.Pickering's heart too as he reminds him of his dog, General, from his childhood. Mr.Pickering is 96 years old and lives in the retirement home. He is generally grumpy but Harvey's arrival transforms him as well. He softens and ends up narrating his story as a child to Austin and Harvey.


The challenging bit that led us to devise our own theories

A significant proportion of the book, is set in the 1930s, Mr.Pickering's story. We discovered that the idea perhaps came about as the author used to love listening to her grandpa's stories. Through his story, the readers got a glimpse of the hard times in America then on account of the Great Depression as well as the Dust Bowl. It felt at times that readers couldn't full grasp the depth of scarcity and hardships that people faced back then. They seemed to often feel the need to establish a connection between this story and the main plot which is set in the present day.


Soon after we finished reading the book we talked about the reading experience as a whole. A common reaction was that the reading experience at times felt frustrating. Readers shared that they couldn't easily establish the connection between Mr.Pickering's story and the main plot. Also, the feeling that Mr.Pickering's childhood stories felt like a drag sometimes, was another common reaction. Having said that, the readers at the Young Readers' Club deserve special appreciation for supporting one another and continuing to read the book with enthusiasm.


Descriptions at times sounded unpleasant. These were skipped out of the worry that these parts may add to the frustrating experience of reading a long winded story that seemed to have little connection with the main plot as is.


The ending left us with somewhat mixed reactions: There was a sense of disappointment that none of our theories turned out to be true. Also, the connection between the long winded story of Mr.Pickering and the main plot, felt weak. However, there was this inexplicable feeling of sadness as we closed the book. It wasn't sadness on account of our theories being wrong but a realisation that we had grown some what close to the characters. We had felt what they had felt. The ending of the book, pretty much mirrored our feelings.


There was this inexplicable feeling of sadness as we closed the book. It wasn't sadness on account of our theories being wrong but a realisation that we had grown some what close to the characters. We had felt what they had felt. The ending of the book, pretty much mirrored our feelings.
 

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Both weekday and weekend batches are available at the Young Readers' Club. While this program is for the 8-11 age group, the Young Writers' Club program for the 12-14 age group offers a weekly platform to read and discuss curated articles from the news, observe writing approaches and practise one's writing skills.

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