Kirkus Reviews


“Collins’ tale of neurodiversity, based on a true story, is really about Harley’s job as a service dog—from the title and front endpapers to the ending…. The illustrations are inclusive, from the progress pride flag flying over the school under the Canadian maple leaf to the diverse classroom, which includes a child who uses a wheelchair. (The narrator and Ms. Prichard present White, and Amelia presents Asian.)…A lighthearted introduction to service dogs and their grateful partners.”

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Foreword Reviews

“Ms. Prichard’s class has the reputation for being the best in the school thanks to Harley, the service dog who helps her to feel safe. Among students of all backgrounds and abilities, Harley is a calming force. He helps the children learn about respect, boundaries, and listening—and when an emergency strikes, he’s ready to leap into action and assist.”

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Canadian Review of Materials

The author has executed her own illustrations for the book. Bold colours are used for the digital artwork which has the look of having been rendered in oil pastel and line. The facial expressions of the humans and of one friendly dog are very readable throughout, from glee at watching Harley open the Animail box on his own, to the pleasure of a circle time, to dismay at the sound of the fire bell. Perspectives are dynamic and sometimes pull readers in by showing only a fragment of a scene.

A classroom drama with a lesson in caring, Harley the Hero will be enjoyed by children and the adults who introduce the book to them.”

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Canadian Children’s Book Centre

“Every day Harley comes to school with Mr. Prichard to help her feel safe. Harley stays close to Ms. Prichard all day and always keeps one eye open so he can see everything. The students in the class are not allowed to interact with Harley when he has his vest on, so they send him ‘Animail’ and leave him treats. Ms. Prichard’s class is the quietest in the school.

One day the stage curtains catch fire, and everything becomes very loud. The fire alarms ring and ring, and there is even smoke. Most of the children head to the door, but Amelia, who doesn’t like loud noises, runs the other way. Harley drags Ms. Prichard back to her desk to find Amelia hiding underneath. Ms. Prichard, Amelia and Harley crawl to the hallway to safety and everyone cheers. Harley is a hero!

Peggy Collins once visited a classroom where the teacher has a service dog. She based this book on the real teacher, Sherri Richards, and the real-life service dog, Stanley. You’ll find an Author’s Note about the real dog behind the fictional Harley at the back of the book. Collins brings the children in this story to life with vivid colours and expressive characters. The students are from diverse backgrounds, represent multiple exceptionalities, and Harley is a most endearing pup who loves to lick people’s feet. I would highly recommend sharing this book to teach about service animals and to begin discussions about children and adults with ‘invisible disabilities.’”

Youth Services Book Review

“This book is about an elementary school class with many diverse abilities, including a teacher with a service dog. Students in the class know what they can and can’t do with Harley, and it is mostly action focused. (For example, they know they can’t distract him, but they can smile at him, write him messages, and be on their best behavior so he can do his job more easily.) The teacher is described as having an “invisible disability” and Harvey helps her feel safe, which I think is an appropriate and positive description for young children. ”

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CanLit for Little Canadians

“Most children are drawn to dogs. They want to pat them and hug them, call their names and get close. But service dogs must be treated differently so that they may help their human friends. Harley is one such service dog so he’s a hero everyday for his person. But when there’s a fire in the school where his person works, Harley proves he’s able to share his strength with others when needed.

As mentioned in Peggy Collins‘s “Author’s Note” and in a brief note from the teacher upon whom the story of Harley is based, Harley the Hero is a very real story. Because of that, Peggy Collins uses it to educate as well as entertain. The issues of individuals with invisible disabilities like PTSD and sensory processing disorder are addressed as are how to deal with service dogs.”

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Eden Mills Writer’s Festival Kids’ Reads

“What do you like about this book? 

Yuliana: I liked that Ms. Prichard is the best teacher she can be.

Alison: I like the pictures and the doggy.

What is your favourite part of the story and why? 

Yuliana: My favourite part is when he goes to school. Every day he comes to school with Ms. Prichard. I don’t have a dog. My teacher has a dog at my virtual classes.

Alison: Harley likes to lick feet.”

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The International Educator

“Harley The Hero by Peggy Collins is based on a real classroom where the teacher has a service dog. The book celebrates the work of service animals and the normalization of neurodivergence. The author-illustrator brings Harley and his class to charming life and concludes with an Author’s Note about the real dog behind the fictional Harley who goes to school every day with Ms. Prichard to make sure she feels safe.”

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Storytime with Stephanie

“Teachers, parents and children will be mesmerized by Harley’s story. I love how Peggy Collins Stuart’s off by telling readers that Ms. Pritchard has an invisible disability, leading to so much discussion and learning right from the start. Readers and their adults can discuss the differences between visible and invisible disabilities and the important role animals play in helping people in their daily lives. I also love all of the information about Harley and service animals just like him. Peggy Collins ensures that readers understand that Harley has an important job and needs to not be distracted in order to do that job properly.

I like that Peggy Collins includes an emergency at school, a fire. Fire drills are something schools regularly practice. I appreciated how she framed the emergency, showed Harley helping Amelia and also best practice when escaping the smoky building. The fire incident doesn’t feel scary, but empowering, showing readers that all the practice they do is important.

Amelia and Jackson are fantastic characters. We see Amelia illustrated wearing headphones during the day so we know that she needs a device to help her feel comfortable at school, much like Harley does for Ms. Pritchard. We also see how Jackson supports Amelia to also help her feel safe, inspired by Harley.

The illustrations in the book, also by Peggy Collins are bright and vibrant! She creates a school environment that every reader will want to join. Diverse faces and abilities feature throughout the story making Harley the Hero a very inclusive story and one that will touch many different readers.”

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Winner of the 2022 OLA Blue Spruce Award in the Forest of Reading - Harley the Hero

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