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The Haymeadow by Gary Paulsen

The Haymeadow (1992)

by Gary Paulsen

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John Barron is 14, and dissatisfied with his life on a sheep ranch. He dreams of being like his great grandfather, for whom he was named, the founder of the ranch now owned by an eastern conglomerate.

Then he finds himself having to grow up quickly, watching over thousands of sheep for three months, with no assistance except for the sheep dogs and his two horses.

Another satisfying read by Gary Paulsen. Recommended. ( )
  fuzzi | Oct 22, 2013 |
I found this book to be amazing after I got past the first few pages and chapters. I find it amazing that someone used to have to spend months on there own with a bunch of sheep. I was cheering for him the whole time and got upset whenever a huge disaster struck. Like the dog hurt its foot and the flood washed away his stuff. ( )
  ErFe1028 | Jan 31, 2011 |

At only fourteen, John is needed to take care of the Barron-family charges – six thousand sheep that must be tended in the haymeadow high in the mountains. With two dogs and four horses as companions, John faces a host of challenges from snakebites and attacking bears to picking up the pieces after a flash flood washes his summer “home” away, making him wonder if he’s truly the “man” for the job.

A wonderful, action-packed coming of age story told in the first person. John tells of his admiration for his gun-toting great-grandfather, a man he never knew but from his father’s stories and the picture poster on his wall. John resigns himself to his task, overcoming his initial fears to ask ‘what would great-granddaddy Barron do?’ Through self-reliance, ingenuity, and a strong desire to please his father, John finds that he does have what it takes to survive a summer in the haymeadow.

Awards: ALA Best Books for Young Adults (1993)
1 vote MWFforJ757 | Apr 24, 2010 |
The Haymeadow is now one of my favorite Gary Paulsen books -- and I read about 16 of his Juvenile (MG) and Young Adult novels so far this year.

This story is about John Barron, a 14 year-old boy who lives in an all male household on a sheep ranch in Montana. He's grown up with the legends of his tough, independent grandfather; stories that have left him wondering how it must have been to come to this wild land with nothing but two horses and a gun; to build up an large cattle ranch that extended for miles.

A great portion of this story is John's trying to figure out the more recent past and his place in the family story. His mother died when he was a baby, and somehow his family lost the place and cattle, and now work it as a sheep ranch for Eastern businessmen.

John's unsure of his own place principally because the men who surround him are the quiet self-sufficient sorts. They don't tell him much, and don't seem to need him until one of them falls ill and it's falls to John to care for thousands of sheep up in a remote mountain valley where they summer the animals. He'll be alone at the haymeadow except for two horses and the dogs... and the coyotes and the bears!

Despite the fact that The Haymeadow is one adventure followed by another, Gary Paulsen manages to pack in a lot of self reflection and pathos. I absolutely loved that in the end the illness in that male group, along with John's 'coming of age' brings about a break in the quiet. John's father begins to talk about his wife, how they met, and also about what how the legends John new before have little to do with the truth.

As I said, I love this book. It had a depth to it that resonated with me. But because of this, I'm not sure how it will fare with Mr. Paulsen's youngest enthusiasts. It might truly be more of a YA read than an MG (middle grade) one. OR it might be that it's a book that can be read at different levels, and with reward at different times in one's life.

Highly recommend this one.

a mini-review
(Pam T, booksforkids-reviews.com) ( )
  PamFamilyLibrary | Mar 1, 2010 |
Lexile: 1010
Reading Recovery: 32
DRA: 44
Fountas Pinnel Guided Reading: Z
  mr.crunkleton | Aug 24, 2007 |
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To the Burks, Lynn, Tami, Alex, Justin, and Brian
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John Barron was fourteen years old. Just.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0440409233, Paperback)

Fourteen-year-old John Barron is asked, like his father and grandfather before him, to spend the summer taking care of their sheep in the haymeadow. Six thousand sheep. John will be alone, except for two horses, four dogs, and all those sheep.

John doesn't feel up to the task, but he hopes that if he can accomplish it, he will finally please his father. But John finds that the adage "things just to sheep" is true when the river floods, coyotes attack, and one dog's feet get cut. Through it all he must rely on his own resourcefulness, ingenuity, and talents to survive this summer in the haymeadow.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:01:00 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Fourteen-year-old John comes of age and gains self-reliance during the summer he spends up in the Wyoming mountains tending his father's herd of sheep.

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