by Paulsen, Gary. (Delacorte, 1992 ISBN 0-385-30621-0) Novel. 195 pages. Grades 5+.
This book was reviewed by Carol Otis Hurst in Teaching K-8 Magazine.
John Baron had just turned fourteen when he was sent by his stern, uncommunicative father to spend the summer in the haymeadow alone with six thousand sheep, two horses and four dogs. John has always identified with and tried to emulate his grandfather, or at least with the stories he heard about him. In the haymeadow, John comes to face his fears as well as his dreams. When his father comes to the haymeadow, John also faces him and finds out the truth about his grandfather, his father and himself.
The taciturn Mr. Baron is the most intriguing character in the book although John himself is the main focus. Students might like thinking of other characters who are keepers of secrets and unwilling to divulge them easily. Nina Bawden's Granny the Pag, for instance, has flamboyant but equally close-mouthed Granny. The grandfather in Patricia MacLachlan's Journey knows and recognizes his daughter's flaws but, without criticizing her, helps Journey comes to grips with her.
In Haymeadow the title location is the fire in which John is tested and Paulsen often uses the theme of growth coming through survival under difficult circumstances usually faced alone. His popular Hatchet has that focus as does his Voyage of the Frog.
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